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VUMC researchers use EHR data to study functional seizures


Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers used electronic medical record data to determine the prevalence of “functional seizures” and the comorbidities associated with them.

In a study published this past week in the Journal of the American Medical Association , the team found that post-traumatic stress disorders and sexual assault trauma were associated with functional seizures, or episodes that are similar to epileptic seizures in their clinical presentation but display no aberrant brain electrical patterns.

Functional seizure patients face an average diagnostic delay of seven years. “I felt like studies within electronic health records could potentially be really impactful for this community,” said Lea Davis, who headed the team, to the VUMC Reporter .

WHY IT MATTERS Using a database of deidentified EHR data from VUMC, researchers developed a clinically validated phenotyping algorithm to identify functional seizures cases; estimated the period prevalence of functional seizures in a hospital population; and identified comorbidities associated with functional seizures.

The study population included more than 2 million VUMC patients from 1994 to 2019, with the team extracting demographic characteristics, ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes, CPT codes and clinical notes from the EHR and mining them for analyses.

“Based on the number of patients identified […]

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