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Using Queueing Theory to Alleviate Emergency Department Overcrowding

  1. Linda V. Green

Published Online: 15 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470400531.eorms0987

Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

How to Cite

Green, L. V. 2010. Using Queueing Theory to Alleviate Emergency Department Overcrowding. Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science. .

Author Information

  1. Armand G. Erpf Professor, Columbia Business School, New York, New York

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUN 2010

Abstract

Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding is a growing problem in the United States and many other countries. Though sometimes dismissed as a minor issue caused by an increase in those who use the ED for routine medical care, this masks the potentially fatal consequences for seriously ill patients who do not receive timely care. This article will illustrate how problems in emergency responsiveness are often due to capacity management policies used by hospital managers and government officials which are based on an erroneous understanding of service system dynamics. Examples will show how the use of queueing models can help identify root causes of ED overcrowding and identify better policies for resource allocation and management that will result in significant improvements, often with little or no additional capacity.

Keywords:

  • queueing;
  • emergency departments;
  • hospitals;
  • capacity management;
  • overcrowding