Charming female doctor giving advice to a female patient.

What is the best time to go to the doctor?

Does the timing of a doctor’s visit affect the quality of care? Scientists think so. In a recent study published in the JAMA Network Open Trusted Source, researchers examined the frequency of cancer screening appointments with the time of day a patient visited a doctor. We studied data from 50,000 patients who visited a doctor complaining of symptoms similar to the development of colorectal cancer or breast cancer.

The researchers found that the closer it got to the evening, the less likely doctors were to order appropriate tests.

“We found that if you went to your doctor in the morning or afternoon, especially at the start of your shift, you were more likely to be sent for cancer screening than if you went to your doctor later in the day,” said Dr. Mitesh Patel, assistant professor of medicine and health management at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, co-author of the study.

However, it’s not just doctors. After visiting the doctor, patients were followed up for a year – and the researchers found that those who came to the doctor in the afternoon were less likely to visit the same doctor again a year later.

So, those who visited their doctors in the morning were more likely to be screened a year later than those who came in the afternoon. An 8 a.m. doctor’s visit was associated with the highest frequency of screening tests ordered, at 64 percent. This figure dropped to 49 percent by 11 am.

healthcare and medicine concept – smiling doctor with clipboard and patient in hospital

At noon, those numbers rose to 56 percent, which Patel attributes to the start of a new shift. The low – 48 percent – was reached in the afternoon.

It should be noted that this trend is typical not only for the screening of these types of cancer, but also in general for different types of medical care. The later you see a doctor, the more likely the quality of care will deteriorate.

You don’t need to be a visionary to understand that the main reason is the fatigue of doctors. Here you can add unscheduled visits that knock you out of rhythm. But patients also play a significant role – they also get tired after a working day, rush to return home to their family and prefer to postpone a serious conversation until later or limit themselves to providing fragmentary information.

Patel urges patients not to rush to immediately reschedule their visits to the doctor for the early morning, but to approach the visit responsibly and properly prepare for it in order to use the appointment as efficiently as possible.

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