Triage, treatments and quality of care in the ED: Evidence from a queuing reform (joint with David Silver and Torsten Walter)


We study how physicians’ decisions in the emergency department are affected by upstream decisions, by exploiting a change in the triage protocol. The reform introduces a signal sent by the triage nurse to the physician regarding perceived patient’s complexity based on the chief complaint.  We show that physicians significantly reduce service time and amount of care provided to patients who are labeled by the triage nurse as being “low-complexity”. This response increases readmission rates, calling into question a model where physicians have an unbiased perception of the signal sent upstream.