Querying the National Drug File Reference Terminology (NDFRT) to assign drugs to decision support categories

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2010;160(Pt 2):1095-9.


Introduction: The accurate categorization of drugs is a prerequisite for decision support rules. The manual process of creating drug classes can be laborious and error-prone.

Methods: All 142 drug classes currently used at Regenstrief Institute for drug interaction alerts were extracted. These drug classes were replicated as fully-defined concepts in our local instance of the NDFRT knowledge base. The performance of these two strategies (manual classification vs. NDFRT-based queries) was compared, and the sensitivity and specificity of each was calculated.

Results: Compared to existing manual classifications, NDFRT-based queries made a greater number of correct class-drug assignments: 1528 vs. 1266. NDFRT queries have greater sensitivity (74.9% vs. 62.1%) to classify drugs. However, they have less specificity (85.6% vs. 99.8%).

Conclusion: The NDFRT knowledge base shows promise for use in an automated strategy to improve the creation and update of drug classes. The chief disadvantage of our NDFRT-based approach was a greater number of false positive assignments due to the inclusion of non-systemic doseforms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / classification*
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations