Priority queuing models for hospital intensive care units and impacts to severe case patients.

Matthew S. Hagen*, Jeffrey K. Jopling, Timothy G. Buchman, Eva K. Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This paper examines several different queuing models for intensive care units (ICU) and the effects on wait times, utilization, return rates, mortalities, and number of patients served. Five separate intensive care units at an urban hospital are analyzed and distributions are fitted for arrivals and service durations. A system-based simulation model is built to capture all possible cases of patient flow after ICU admission. These include mortalities and returns before and after hospital exits. Patients are grouped into 9 different classes that are categorized by severity and length of stay (LOS). Each queuing model varies by the policies that are permitted and by the order the patients are admitted. The first set of models does not prioritize patients, but examines the advantages of smoothing the operating schedule for elective surgeries. The second set analyzes the differences between prioritizing admissions by expected LOS or patient severity. The last set permits early ICU discharges and conservative and aggressive bumping policies are contrasted. It was found that prioritizing patients by severity considerably reduced delays for critical cases, but also increased the average waiting time for all patients. Aggressive bumping significantly raised the return and mortality rates, but more conservative methods balance quality and efficiency with lowered wait times without serious consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-850
Number of pages10
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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