Introduction: There is ongoing concern about the burden placed on healthcare systems by lab tests. Although these concerns are widespread, it is difficult to quantify the extent of the problem. One approach involves use of a metric known as the Mean Abnormal Response Rate (MARR), which is the proportion of tests ordered that return an abnormal result; a higher MARR value indicates higher yield. The primary objective of this study was to calculate MARRs for tests ordered between April 2014 and March 2019 at the four adult emergency departments (EDs) covering a metropolitan population of 1.3 million. Secondary objectives included identifying tests with highest and lowest MARRs; comparison of MARRs for nurse- and physician-initiated orders; correlation of the number of tests per order requisition to MARR; and correlation of physician experience to MARR. Methods: In total, 40 laboratory tests met inclusion criteria for this study. Administrative data on these tests as ordered at the four EDs were obtained and analyzed. Multi-component test results, such as from CBC, were consolidated such that an abnormal result for any component was coded as an abnormal result for the entire test. Repeat tests ordered within a single patient visit were excluded. Physician experience was quantified for 209 ED physicians as number of years since licensure. Analyses were descriptive where appropriate for whole-population data. Risk of bias was attenuated by the focus on administrative data. Results: The population dataset comprised 33,757,004 test results on 415,665 unique patients. Of these results, 30.3% were the outcomes of nurse-initiated orders. The 5-year MARRs for the four hospitals were 38.3%, 40.0%, 40.7% and 40.9%. The highest per-test MARRs were for BNP (80.5%) and CBC (62.6%), while the lowest were for glucose (7.9%) and sodium (11.6%). MARRs were higher for nurse-initiated orders than for physician-initiated orders (44.7% vs. 38.1%), likely due to the greater order frequency of high-yield CBC in nurse-initiated orders (38.6% vs. 18.1%). The number of tests per order requisition was inversely associated with MARR (r = -0.90, p < 0.001). Finally, the number of years since licensure was modestly but significantly associated with MARR (r = 0.28, p < 0.001). Conclusion: This is the first and largest study to apply the MARR in an ED setting. As a metric, MARR effectively identifies differences in test ordering practices on per-test and per-hospital bases, which could be useful for data-informed practice optimization.