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

Manel Taboada, Eduardo Cabrera, Francisco Epelde, María Luisa Iglesias, Emilio Luque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To design a model and a simulation tool that hospital emergency department directors can use as a decisionmaking 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-195
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Agent-based model
  • Agent-based simulation tool
  • Decision-making aids
  • Hospital emergency health service
  • Team management


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