Automated identification provides an efficient way to categorize patient safety incidents. Previous studies have focused on identifying single incident types relating to a specific patient safety problem, e.g., clinical handover. In reality, there are multiple types of incidents reflecting the breadth of patient safety problems and a single report may describe multiple problems, i.e., it can be assigned multiple type labels. This study evaluated the abilty of multi-label classification methods to identify multiple incident types in single reports. Three multi-label methods were evaluated: binary relevance, classifier chains and ensemble of classifier chains. We found that an ensemble of classifier chains was the most effective method using binary Support Vector Machines with radial basis function kernel and bag-of-words feature extraction, performing equally well on balanced and stratified datasets, (F-score: 73.7% vs. 74.7%). Classifiers were able to identify six common incident types: falls, medications, pressure injury, aggression, documentation problems and others.
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