Provider-in-triage prediction of hospital admission after brief patient interaction

Published:December 09, 2020DOI:


      Background and objectives

      We sought to determine if emergency physician providers working in the triage area (PIT) of the ED could accurately predict the likelihood of admission for patients at the time of triage. Such predictions, if accurate, could decrease the time spent in the ED for patients who are admitted to the hospital by hastening downstream workflow.


      This is a prospective cohort study of PIT providers at a large urban hospital. Physicians were asked to predict the likelihood of admission and confidence of prediction for patients after evaluating them in triage. Measures of predictive accuracy were calculated, including sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver operator characteristic (AUROC).


      36 physicians (20 attendings, 16 residents) evaluated 340 patients and made predictions. The average patient age was 48 (range 18–94) and 52% were female. Seventy-three patients (21%) were admitted (5% observation, 85% general care/telemetry, 7% progressive care, 3% ICU). The sensitivity of determining admission for the entire cohort was 74%, the specificity was 84%, and the AUROC was 0.81. When physicians were at least 80% confident in their predictions, the predictions improved to sensitivity of 93%, specificity of 96%, and AUROC 0.95 (Graph 1).


      The accuracy of physician providers-in-triage of predicting hospital admission was very good when those predictions were made with higher degrees of confidence. These results indicate that while general predictions of admission are likely inadequate to guide downstream workflow, predictions in which the physician is confident could provide utility.


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