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Reasons not to visit the doctor in the afternoon

Hawaii residents who are about to schedule a doctor's examination or undergo surgery will want to avoid an afternoon visit, if possible. There are several good reasons for doing so, the first being that doctors and nurses, like other workers, experience what's called the afternoon slump. Fatigue sets in around 2 pm and 3 pm, which means decreased attention and productivity and, with it, an increased risk for medical mistakes.

Anesthesiologists in particular are more prone to mistakes: a Duke University study shows that the probability of a mistake more than quadruples from 9 am to 4 pm. Researchers even point out afternoon circadian lows as the reason behind this trend. Shift changes occur around 3 pm, which means that patients could be operated on by two different surgical teams. Miscommunications between the two teams can have serious consequences.

Doctors experiencing the slump will be likelier to prescribe antibiotics, even when unnecessary. They will be less attentive to polyps during cancer detection. One study of more than 1,000 colonoscopies showed the polyp detection rate decrease by 5 percent with every passing afternoon hour. Another reason to consider is that doctors and caregivers wash their hands less in the afternoon, even when they have an opportunity to do so.

Some medical mistakes can constitute negligence, in which case victims can be eligible for compensation. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit might be an appropriate step, but it would be advisable for victims to first meet with an attorney. It is necessary to show that the actions of the health care professional did not live up to the requisite standard of care.

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