Medical decision support using machine learning for early detection of late-onset neonatal sepsis

Subramani Mani, Asli Ozdas, Constantin Aliferis, Huseyin Atakan Varol, Qingxia Chen, Randy Carnevale, Yukun Chen, Joann Romano-Keeler, Hui Nian, Jörn Hendrik Weitkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective was to develop non-invasive predictive models for late-onset neonatal sepsis from offthe-shelf medical data and electronic medical records (EMR). Design: The data used in this study are from 299 infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit in the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and evaluated for late-onset sepsis. Gold standard diagnostic labels (sepsis negative, culture positive sepsis, culture negative/clinical sepsis) were assigned based on all the laboratory, clinical and microbiology data available in EMR. Only data that were available up to 12 h after phlebotomy for blood culture testing were used to build predictive models using machine learning (ML) algorithms. Measurement: We compared sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of sepsis treatment of physicians with the predictions of models generated by ML algorithms. Results: The treatment sensitivity of all the nine ML algorithms and specificity of eight out of the nine ML algorithms tested exceeded that of the physician when culture-negative sepsis was included. When culturenegative sepsis was excluded both sensitivity and specificity exceeded that of the physician for all the ML algorithms. The top three predictive variables were the hematocrit or packed cell volume, chorioamnionitis and respiratory rate. Conclusions: Predictive models developed from off-theshelf and EMR data using ML algorithms exceeded the treatment sensitivity and treatment specificity of clinicians. A prospective study is warranted to assess the clinical utility of the ML algorithms in improving the accuracy of antibiotic use in the management of neonatal sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Medical decision support using machine learning for early detection of late-onset neonatal sepsis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this