Quality assurance of chemical ingredient classification for the National Drug File – Reference Terminology

Ling Zheng, Hasan Yumak, Ling Chen, Christopher Ochs, James Geller, Joan Kapusnik-Uner, Yehoshua Perl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The National Drug File – Reference Terminology (NDF-RT) is a large and complex drug terminology consisting of several classification hierarchies on top of an extensive collection of drug concepts. These hierarchies provide important information about clinical drugs, e.g., their chemical ingredients, mechanisms of action, dosage form and physiological effects. Within NDF-RT such information is represented using tens of thousands of roles connecting drugs to classifications. In previous studies, we have introduced various kinds of Abstraction Networks to summarize the content and structure of terminologies in order to facilitate their visual comprehension, and support quality assurance of terminologies. However, these previous kinds of Abstraction Networks are not appropriate for summarizing the NDF-RT classification hierarchies, due to its unique structure. In this paper, we present the novel Ingredient Abstraction Network (IAbN) to summarize, visualize and support the audit of NDF-RT's Chemical Ingredients hierarchy and its associated drugs. A common theme in our quality assurance framework is to use characterizations of sets of concepts, revealed by the Abstraction Network structure, to capture concepts, the modeling of which is more complex than for other concepts. For the IAbN, we characterize drug ingredient concepts as more complex if they belong to IAbN groups with multiple parent groups. We show that such concepts have a statistically significantly higher rate of errors than a control sample and identify two especially common patterns of errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-42
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Sep 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


  • Auditing NDF-RT
  • Auditing chemical ingredients
  • Chemical Ingredients hierarchy
  • Drug terminology
  • NDF-RT quality assurance
  • National Drug File – Reference Terminology


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