A systematic review of simulation studies investigating emergency department overcrowding

Sharoda A. Paul, Madhu C. Reddy, Christopher J. Deflitch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


The problem of emergency department (ED) overcrowding has reached crisis proportions in the last decade. In 2005, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine reported on the important role of simulation as a systems analysis tool that can have an impact on care processes at the care-team, organizational, and environmental levels. Simulation has been widely used to understand causes of ED overcrowding and to test interventions to alleviate its effects. In this paper, we present a systematic review of ED simulation literature from 1970 to 2006 from healthcare, systems engineering, operations research and computer science publication venues. The goals of this review are to highlight the contributions of these simulation studies to our understanding of ED overcrowding and to discuss how simulation can be better used as a tool to address this problem. We found that simulation studies provide important insights into ED overcrowding but they also had major limitations that must be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-571
Number of pages13
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Aug 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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