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Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018;247:441-445.

Sifting Through Chaos: Extracting Information from Unstructured Legal Opinions.

Author information

CINTESIS - Center for Health Technology and Services Research, Portugal.
MEDCIDS - Community Medicine, Health Information and Decision Department, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, Portugal.
INESC-TEC - Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto, Portugal.


Abiding to the law is, in some cases, a delicate balance between the rights of different players. Re-using health records is such a case. While the law grants reuse rights to public administration documents, in which health records produced in public health institutions are included, it also grants privacy to personal records. To safeguard a correct usage of data, public hospitals in Portugal employ jurists that are responsible for allowing or withholding access rights to health records. To help decision making, these jurists can consult the legal opinions issued by the national committee on public administration documents usage. While these legal opinions are of undeniable value, due to their doctrine contribution, they are only available in a format best suited from printing, forcing individual consultation of each document, with no option, whatsoever of clustered search, filtering or indexing, which are standard operations nowadays in a document management system. When having to decide on tens of data requests a day, it becomes unfeasible to consult the hundreds of legal opinions already available. With the objective to create a modern document management system, we devised an open, platform agnostic system that extracts and compiles the legal opinions, ex-tracts its contents and produces metadata, allowing for a fast searching and filtering of said legal opinions.


Clinical research informatics; Other subdiscipline

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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