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Agent-based emergency decision-making aid for hospital emergency departments

Taboada M, Cabrera E, Epelde F, Iglesias ML, Luque E

Escuela Universitaria de Informática Tomás Cerdá, Departamento de Arquitectura de Computadores y Sistemas Operativos, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. Servicio de Urgencias, Hospital de Sabadell, Consorci Sanitari i Universitari Parc Taulí, Sabadell, Spain.

Objective: To design a model and a simulation tool that hospital emergency department
directors can use as a decision-making aid for managing human and material resources
and for planning the strategic deployment of resources during an expected pandemic.
Methods: We used an iterative spiral approach to developing the model in 5 phases
(systems analysis, model building, design and implementation of the simulation tool,
verifying the simulator’s functionality, and validation of the simulator against real
emergency department data). After each iteration, we identified improvements to make
before the next phase. The process was repeated until the model and the simulation tool
behaved similarly to the real system. The data necessary to develop the model were
obtained from 2 hospitals, one a tertiary care facility and the other a secondary one; the
centers were visited and interviews were conducted with the directors, supervisors and
other staff.
Results: The model describes the complex dynamics of a hospital emergency department
whose behavior results from the actions and interactions of agents (patients, physicians,
nurses, managers and other staff); therefore the behavior of each type of agent had to be
reflected in the model. The functioning of the model was verified for a simple department,
with analysis of the effects that changes in emergency staff deployment and levels of
experience would have on the department’s output.
Conclusion: The simulation tool proved useful as a decision-making aid, allowing the
user to identify the optimal deployment of human resources for attending a specific
number of patients.

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