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January 1978

A Technique for Analyzing Clinical Data to Provide Patient Management Guidelines: A Study of Meningitis in Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics and the Center for the Study of Health Services, Institution for Social and Policies Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Am J Dis Child. 1978;132(1):25-29. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1978.02120260027003

• This article describes a technique for analyzing clinical data in order to guide patient management decisions. The technique is illustrated by considering a specific decision problem encountered in the management of possible meningitis, namely, whether or not to administer antibiotics while awaiting the results of a CSF bacterial culture. Data from 303 patients with meningitis are analyzed in order to determine which combination of clinical variables best discriminates between bacterial and aseptic cases. From these variables, a probability tree is constructed that indicates the probability of bacterial meningitis, depending on a patient's clinical characteristics. In addition to identifying the most important variables, the analysis reveals that a number of tests performed routinely on patients with meningitis are of questionable diagnostic value.

(Am J Dis Child 132:25-29, 1978)

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