A datetime-compatible class for FHIR date/datetime values.

pip install fhirdatetime==0.1.0b8


fhirdatetime: Flexible datetime Alternative

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A datetime-compatible class for FHIR date/datetime values.

The FHIR specification from HL7 is "a standard for health care data exchange." The FHIR spec includes date and datetime data types that provide more flexibility than the standard Python date and datetime types. This makes sense when you consider a patient may report to their provider that they have experience a particular symptom since a particular year without knowing the month or day of onset.


Install fhirdatetime using pip:

pip install fhirdatetime



The fhirdatetime.FhirDateTime class is designed to be used to store date/datetime values from FHIR payloads (which are JSON strings), you can create instances from str values:

>>> FhirDateTime("2021-03-15")
fhirdatetime.FhirDateTime(2021, 3, 15)

You can also convert native date and datetime objects directly:

>>> FhirDateTime(date(2021, 3, 15))
fhirdatetime.FhirDateTime(2021, 3, 15)
>>> FhirDateTime(datetime(2021, 3, 15, 20, 54))
fhirdatetime.FhirDateTime(2021, 3, 15, 20, 54)

One purpose of this library is to allow flexibility in granularity without sacrificing the ability to compare (using <, >, ==, etc.) against objects of the same type as well as native date and datetime objects.


When comparing objects, only the values that are populated for both objects are considered. Consider the following examples in which only the years are compared:

>>> FhirDateTime(2021) == FhirDateTime(2021, 3, 15)
>>> FhirDateTime(2021) == datetime(2021, 3, 15, 23, 56)
>>> FhirDateTime(2021) == date(2021, 3, 15)
>>> FhirDateTime(2021) < FhirDateTime(2021, 3, 15)
>>> FhirDateTime(2021) > FhirDateTime(2021, 3, 15)



When there is ambiguity due to one FhirDateTime object storing less-granular data than another (e.g., FhirDateTime(2021) vs. FhirDateTime(2021, 4)), objects with missing values will be ordered before those with more granular values that would otherwise be considered equivalent when using the == operator.

When you need to sort a sequence of either FhirDateTime objects or object that contain a FhirDateTime object, the FhirDateTime.sort_key() function will make it easier to sort the items properly.

There are two ways to use this function. The first is intended for use when sorting a sequence of FhirDateTime objects, something like this (notice that sort_key() is called with no parameters):

>>> sorted(
...     [FhirDateTime(2021, 4), FhirDateTime(2021), FhirDateTime(2021, 4, 12)],
...     key=FhirDateTime.sort_key()
... )
[FhirDateTime(2021), FhirDateTime(2021, 4), FhirDateTime(2021, 4, 12)]

The second is for use when sorting a sequence of objects that have FhirDateTime objects as attributes. This example sorts the CarePlan [1] objects by the care plan's period's start date:

>>> sorted(care_plan_list, key=FhirDateTime.sort_key("period.start"))

In this example, sorted() passes each item in care_plan_list to the sort_key static method, which first gets the period attribute of the item, then gets the start attribute of the period. Finally, the year, month, day, and other values are returned to sorted(), which does the appropriate sorting on those values.

If neither of these use cases of the sort_key() function apply to what you need to do, you can always use a custom lambda to do your sorting. For example, the following is equivalent to the care plan sorting example:

>>> sorted(care_plan_list, key=lambda x: FhirDateTime.sort_key(x.period.start))


This project is licensed under the MIT license.

[1] Take a look at the fhir.resources definition of a CarePlan here to get a better idea of what is going on in the example.