Prediction of Length of Stay in the Emergency Department for COVID-19 Patients: A Machine Learning Approach

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IEEE Access


The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has become a global public health threat. The influx of COVID-19 patients has prolonged the length of stay (LOS) in the emergency department (ED) in the United States. Our objective is to develop a reliable prediction model for COVID-19 patient ED LOS and identify clinical factors, such as age and comorbidities, associated with LOS within a ‘‘4-hour target.’’ Data were collected from an urban, demographically diverse hospital in Detroit for all COVID-19 patients’ ED presentations from March 16 to December 29, 2020. We trained four machine learning models, namely logistic regression (LR), gradient boosting (GB), decision tree (DT), and random forest (RF), across different data processing stages to predict COVID-19 patients with an ED LOS of less than or greater than 4 hours. The analysis is inclusive of 3,301 COVID-19 patients with known ED LOS, and 16 significant clinical factors were incorporated. The GB model outperformed the baseline classifier (LR) and tree-based classifiers (DT and RF) with an accuracy of 85% and F1-score of 0.88 for predicting ED LOS in the testing data. No significant accuracy gains were achieved through further splitting. This study identified key independent factors from a combination of patient demographics, comorbidities, and ED operational data that predicted ED stay in patients with prolonged COVID-19. The prediction framework can serve as a decision-support tool to improve ED and hospital resource planning and inform patients about better ED LOS estimations.



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