Timing Your Doctor’s Appointments
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania found that cancer screening tests – specifically mammograms and colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies and fecal occult blood tests for colon cancer – are more likely to be recommended for patients who see their doctors early in the day. The researchers examined data from 33 primary care practices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey from 2014 through 2016. They found that doctors ordered breast cancer screening for 64 percent of eligible patients seen in the 8 a.m. hour compared to 48 percent with 5 p.m. appointments. They also ordered colon cancer screening tests for 37 percent of patients seen at 8 a.m. compared to 23 percent seen later in the day. The researchers tracked whether patients completed the recommended screening within a year of their appointments and found a downward trend linked to the time of day they saw their doctors. “The later in the day their appointments and orders were given, the less likely they were to actually undergo the tests”. The team attributed the differences in screening recommendations to doctors’ “decision fatigue” resulting from the cumulative burden of screening discussions earlier in the day and also to physicians falling behind in their busy schedules.
Esther Y. Hsiang et al, “Association of Primary Care Clinic Appointment Time with Clinician Ordering and Patient Completion of Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening,” JAMA Network Open, May 10, 2019, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.3403
More from this week’s bulletin:
- Update On Breakfast And Heart Health
- Where Measles Will Strike Next
- This Week’s Recipe: Spinach Toasts