Make Appointments to See Your Doctors Early in the Morning Instead of Later in the Day

Updated on May 20, 2019
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

Doctor greeting patient
Doctor greeting patient | Source

Some people don't care what day of the week or what time of the day they go to the doctor. Often the receptionist will ask you the day and time you would like an appointment. You don't have to accept any day or any time of the day unless it can't be avoided. Since you have a choice, there are days and times that are better for making a doctor's appointment.

If you get a doctor's appointment early in the day, you will probably get the best attention when the doctor is fresh and before his schedule gets too hectic. By the third, fourth and later appointments during the day, things tend to get backed up in the doctor's office. Therefore, try to avoid going to the doctor later in the day if you can.

Many doctors admit they tend to lose their focus around 3 p.m. They have to regroup before they can effectively diagnose patients until the end of the day. Since they are aware of the slump in the early afternoon, they usually go for a much-needed break to get a snack or a cup of coffee.

Doctor holds a stethoscope
Doctor holds a stethoscope | Source

"Decision Fatigue"

A study confirms that most doctors do have what is called a “3 o’clock fade” and it could affect how they treat their patients. They also have "decision fatigue."

According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, decision fatigue is very common in the medical profession just as it in other professions. For example, judges are too tired in the late evening to think through cases to give a fair decision. The study proved that judges hand down more lenient sentences earlier in the morning.

A 2014 study shows that doctors prescribe fewer unnecessary prescriptions for their early morning patients. The number of unnecessary prescriptions increases later during the day. The chance of you getting an unnecessary prescription is higher at 4 p.m. than if you had an 8 a.m. appointment.

Doctors are rational decision-makers, but treatments for their patients change depending on the time of day. Physicians tend to default to the easy thing later in the day without having to do much thinking. Therefore, when doctors become fatigued, they write a prescription or give a referral rather than taking the time and energy to explain to patients other options.

The same patient can see the doctor at 8 a.m. and get different results if he went back at 4 p.m. with the same issue. Unfortunately, the 4 p.m. patient has a 26 percent chance of getting an unnecessary screening, prescription or referral at 4 p.m. than at an early morning appointment.

Doctor holding medicines
Doctor holding medicines | Source

Doctors' Distractions

Doctors have fewer distractions early in the day. Later in the day, they have to deal with patients being late, unexpected emergencies, and spending more time with patients who come in for one thing but end up giving the doctor several things to diagnose.

Patients spend more time in the waiting room than in their doctor's office. Physicians usually designate about 15 minutes for each patient. If an appointment lasts 18 or 20 minutes, then the excess time has to be taken away from the next patient. The patient who has a 4 p.m. appointment might not get his 15 minutes with the doctor because his time has been consumed by the patients who went before him.

There is another thing to consider about having appointments late in the day. There is not enough time left in the day for labs and test results to be made because technicians and other staff members clock out around 5 p.m. Therefore, lab work, x-rays, and other test results are put on hold until the next day.

The Best and the Worst Times

The Seattle Times not only reveals the best time of day for a doctor’s appointment, but it also indicates the worst time. The best time of day for a doctor's appointment is early in the morning or right after lunch. Those are the times before the doctor gets too far behind with other patients or paperwork. The worst times of day for an appointment are between 11 a.m. and noon and between 4 and 5 p.m.

The best days for a doctor's appointment are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The worst days for a routine doctor's appointment are Mondays and Fridays. Doctors' offices are filled on Mondays with patients who were sick the last weekend. People visit the doctor on Fridays so they will feel better over the upcoming weekend.

The best time to call your doctor's office with a question is between 9 a.m. and noon, or between 1 and 4 p.m. The worst time to call with a question is the first thing in the morning or late in the day.

Another Option

Everybody cannot get an early morning appointment. If you can't be one of the first patients on the doctor's schedule for the day, change to another day when you can be. If that doesn't work try to get the first appointment after lunchtime. At all cost, try to never schedule an appointment at the end of the day.

It is so much more convenient to have an early morning appointment if you are seeing the doctor for a medical issue that prevents you from eating until the visit is over. No one wants to delay eating until 2 or 3 p.m.

When do you make most of your doctors' appointments?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • richardme profile image

      Richard AA 

      13 months ago from currently in china

      Good to know!

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      13 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Thanks for sharing. I usually call to see my doctors very early in the morning. But in a public hospital, where appointments were for an operation, it can even be rescheduled into the noontime or evenings. At such times, I think the doctor has already get refreshed. Many thanks again.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 

      13 months ago from UK

      The thing i dread the most is actually ringing up my doctor's surgery and wait for almost an hour for the receptionist to answer my call. They hardly pick up the phone and when they do, they say there are no morning appointments and you have to call back in the afternoon.

      This is the NHS in the UK, so messed up. They dont care about patients and appointment times.


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