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Mathematical modelling of patient flow through an accident and emergency department
  1. T J Coats1,
  2. S Michalis2
  1. 1St Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry and Queen Mary Westfield College, University of London
  2. 2London School of Economics
  1. Correspondence to: Mr Coats, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB, UK (t.j.coats{at}


Objectives—The objectives of this project; (1) to evaluate the method, (2) to assess the information required for a more detailed model, and (3) to determine if it was worthwhile to undertake the data collection needed for a more detailed model.

Methods—A mathematical model was constructed using the operational research method of discreet event simulation. The effect of different SHO shift patterns on waiting time was assessed with the model.

Results—The model constructed was not an accurate representation of patient flow because of the large number of assumptions that had to be made in this preliminary model. However, the model predicted that an SHO shift pattern that more closely matched the patient arrival pattern would produce shorter waiting times.

Conclusions—This method can be applied to an accident and emergency department. Extension of this approach with the collection of additional data and the development of more sophisticated models seems worthwhile.

  • patient flow
  • mathematic model

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