Automating the Detection of IV Fluid Contamination Using Unsupervised Machine Learning

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BACKGROUND: Intravenous (IV) fluid contamination is a common cause of preanalytical error that can delay or misguide treatment decisions, leading to patient harm. Current approaches for detecting contamination rely on delta checks, which require a prior result, or manual technologist intervention, which is inefficient and vulnerable to human error. Supervised machine learning may provide a means to detect contamination, but its implementation is hindered by its reliance on expert-labeled training data. An automated approach that is accurate, reproducible, and practical is needed. METHODS: A total of 25 747 291 basic metabolic panel (BMP) results from 312 721 patients were obtained from the laboratory information system (LIS). A Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP) model was trained and tested using a combination of real patient data and simulated IV fluid contamination. To provide an objective metric for classification, an “enrichment score” was derived and its performance assessed. Our current workflow was compared to UMAP predictions using expert chart review. RESULTS: UMAP embeddings from real patient results demonstrated outliers suspicious for IV fluid contamination when compared with the simulated contamination's embeddings. At a flag rate of 3 per 1000 results, the positive predictive value (PPV) was adjudicated to be 0.78 from 100 consecutive positive predictions. Of these, 58 were previously undetected by our current clinical workflows, with 49 BMPs displaying a total of 56 critical results. CONCLUSIONS: Accurate and automatable detection of IV fluid contamination in BMP results is achievable without curating expertly labeled training data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-452
Number of pages9
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024


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