Queueing Problems in Emergency Departments: A Review of Practical Approaches and Research Methodologies

Amir Elalouf, Guy Wachtel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Problems related to patient scheduling and queueing in emergency departments are gaining increasing attention in theory, in the fields of operations research and emergency and healthcare services, and in practice. This paper aims to provide an extensive review of studies addressing queueing-related problems explicitly related to emergency departments. We have reviewed 229 articles and books spanning seven decades and have sought to organize the information they contain in a manner that is accessible and useful to researchers seeking to gain knowledge on specific aspects of such problems. We begin by presenting a historical overview of applications of queueing theory to healthcare-related problems. We subsequently elaborate on managerial approaches used to enhance efficiency in emergency departments. These approaches include bed management, fast-track, dynamic resource allocation, grouping/prioritization of patients, and triage approaches. Finally, we discuss scientific methodologies used to analyze and optimize these approaches: algorithms, priority models, queueing models, simulation, and statistical approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalOperations Research Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Discrete-event simulation
  • Emergency department
  • Length of stay
  • Literature review
  • Queueing


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