A significant part of medical knowledge is stored as unstructured free text. However, clinical narratives are known to contain duplicated sections due to clinicians’ copy/paste parts of a former report into a new one. In this study, we aim at evaluating the duplications found within patient records in more than 650,000 French clinical narratives. We adapted a method to identify efficiently duplicated zones in a reasonable time. We evaluated the potential impact of duplications in two use cases: the presence of (i) treatments and/or (ii) relative dates. We identified an average rate of duplication of 33%. We found that 20% of the document contained drugs mentioned only in duplicated zones and that 1.45% of the document contained mentions of relative dates in duplicated zone, that could potentially lead to erroneous interpretation. We suggest the systematic identification and annotation of duplicated zones in clinical narratives for information extraction and temporal-oriented tasks.
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