Past Seminars and Events

Decision Fatigue in Physicians

Publish Time:2019-06-21

Date & Time:June 21, 2019   10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Venue:SEM411 Meeting Room

Speaker:Junjian YI

Inviter:Hanming Fang


Among the recognized problems in administering medical care is excessive workload of physicians. Here we explored its behavioral consequences from the perspective of decision fatigue—the decline in decision quality due to an increased number of patients and treatment decisions. We used administrative data from over 250,000 visits to an emergency department to analyze how decision fatigue affects physician decision-making and patient outcomes. Controlling for various confounding factors, we found that, every 10 patients the physician had previously treated during a shift lowered the index patient’s inpatient admission probability by 11.7%, reduced the number of task orders by 12.3%, and shortened the length of stay by 19.1%; subsequently, both patient revisit rates and mortality rates increased, by 3.6% and 12.5%, respectively. Furthermore, we found that the observed consequences in physician decision-making can be alleviated by taking a break and by accumulated medical experience. These findings suggest that decision fatigue erodes the quality of physician decision-making and impairs patient outcomes, which have important implications on the long-standing debate regarding regulations for healthcare professionals and excessive physician workload.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Junjian Yi is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the National University of Singapore. He received his Ph.D. in economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2011. He was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago from 2011 to 2014, where he was jointly sponsored by two Nobel Prize laureates, Professors James J. Heckman and Gary S. Becker.

His current research focuses on Medical and Health Economics, Labor and Demographic Economics, Economic Development, Chinese and Asian Economies, Economics of Human Capital, Education, Household Behavior and Family Economics, Behavioral Economics, and Applied Econometrics. He has published papers in Management Science, Journal of Labor Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, International Economic Review, etc.