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A Note on Afternoon Doctor Visits

When bodies age they need regular check-ups to ensure systems are functioning properly. Particularly if you suffer from a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure or kidney failure, regular doctor appointments followed up by lab work are extremely important. Through preventative care, your quality of life is better. Managing the day-to-day aches and pains is simpler and when flare-ups occur you are able to bounce back to form faster.

Every month, there are a group of doctors that I must see to ensure that I can manage my own health. My general doctor, he’s my quarterback. He calls the plays and sends me to the appropriate specialist to treat my chronic conditions. While I have a great relationship with my quarterback and his staff, whenever he sends me to another doctor my immediate reaction is anxiety. It makes me anxious to call a specialist because, like your third-grade teacher, they are full of rules. How to call them, when to call them, how to leave a message with the doctor, etc. etc.

Calling a new doctor to schedule an appointment is the most unpleasant thing I do on a monthly basis. Some doctors’ offices want patients to use an online portal for example. Other doctors send a call to a voicemail box with the promise to respond within 48 hours. Recently, a doctor asked that I compete 20 pages of form, can and email at lease a dozen lab reports, and then wait one week for a call back to schedule an appointment. He did call me directly three times to tell me he can’t help me. As time goes on it seems it’s harder and harder to make an appointment.

Power through

I find it best to schedule my doctor’s appointments all on the same day plus labs. It is a brutal day but then all the unpleasantness is resolved in one day with no follow-up and additional work on my end. Leave with your next appointments.

Doctor’s get tired too

The New York Times, published a story a few weeks back, reporting on how the 3 o’clock fade affects doctors. Just like we get tired mid-afternoon, so do doctors that treat us. A study published in JAMA Network Open “found that doctors ordered fewer breast and colon cancer screenings for patients later in the day, compared to first thing in the morning. All the patients were due for screening, but ordering rates were highest for patients with appointments around 8 a.m. By the end of the afternoon, the rates were 10 percent to 15 percent lower.”

Why is that? The study researchers cite running late and decision fatigue as the key culprits. We can observe with our own eyes and feel with our own tush that doctor workloads are heavy and as a result we wait and wait and wait to get very little face time with own doctors. The best time to see a doctor, is the morning because they are fresh. So when you have a doctor’s appointment with a specialist, try to schedule in the morning when the doctor is sharpest.

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