An interpretable deep-learning model for early prediction of sepsis in the emergency department

Patterns (N Y). 2021 Jan 19;2(2):100196. doi: 10.1016/j.patter.2020.100196. eCollection 2021 Feb 12.


Sepsis is a life-threatening condition with high mortality rates and expensive treatment costs. Early prediction of sepsis improves survival in septic patients. In this paper, we report our top-performing method in the 2019 DII National Data Science Challenge to predict onset of sepsis 4 h before its diagnosis on electronic health records of over 100,000 unique patients in emergency departments. A long short-term memory (LSTM)-based model with event embedding and time encoding is leveraged to model clinical time series and boost prediction performance. Attention mechanism and global max pooling techniques are utilized to enable interpretation for the deep-learning model. Our model achieved an average area under the curve of 0.892 and was selected as one of the winners of the challenge for both prediction accuracy and clinical interpretability. This study paves the way for future intelligent clinical decision support, helping to deliver early, life-saving care to the bedside of septic patients.

Keywords: DII challenge; deep learning; emergency department; interpretability; sepsis prediction.