Not All Testers are Admitters: An Analysis of Emergency Physician Resource Utilization and Consultation Rates

Peter S. Antkowiak, Terrance Lee, David T. Chiu, Bryan A. Stenson, Stephen J. Traub, Leon D. Sanchez, Joshua W. Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract Background: Variability exists in emergency physician (EP) resource utilization as measured by ordering practices, rate of consultation, and propensity to admit patients. Objective: To validate and expand upon previous data showing that resource utilization as measured by EP ordering patterns is positively correlated with admission rates. Methods: This is a retrospective study of routinely gathered operational data from the ED of an urban academic tertiary care hospital. We collected individual EP data on advanced imaging, consultation, and admission rates per patient encounter. To investigate whether there might be distinct groups of practice patterns relating these 3 resources, we used a Gaussian mixture model, a classification method used to determine the likelihood of distinct subgroups within a larger population. Results: Our Gaussian mixture model revealed 3 distinct groups of EPs based on their ordering practices. The largest group is characterized by a homogenous pattern of neither high or low resource utilization (n = 37, 27% female, median years’ experience: 6 [interquartile ratio {IQR} 3–18]; rates of advanced imaging, 38.9%; consultation, 45.1%; and admission 39.3%), with a modest group of low-resource users (n = 15, 60% female, median years’ experience: 6 [IQR 5–14]; rates of advanced imaging, 37%; consultation, 42.6%; and admission 37.3%), and far fewer members of a high-resource use group (n = 6, 0% female, median years’ experience: 6 [IQR 4–16]; rates of advanced imaging, 42.2%; consultation, 45.8%; and admission 40.6%). This variation suggests that not “all testers are admitters,” but that there exist wider practice variations among EPs. Conclusions: At our academic tertiary center, 3 distinct subgroups of EP ordering practices exist based on consultation rates, advanced imaging use, and propensity to admit a patient. These data validate previous work showing that resource utilization and admission rates are related, while demonstrating that more nuanced patterns of EP ordering practices exist. Further investigation is needed to understand the impact of EP characteristics and behavior on throughput and quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-474
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • consultation rates
  • physician behavior
  • resource utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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