BOSTON (CBS Boston) — A visit to the doctor later in the day makes it more likely that a patient will walk away with a prescription antibiotic, according to a new report.

The study called “Time of day and the decision to prescribe antibiotics” found that doctors can also be affected by “decision-fatigue” that influences some people as the day goes on.

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“We figured doctors, like other people, get fatigued over the course of the day,” said study author Dr. Jeffrey Linder of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “The more decisions you make, the easier it is to fall back on the easier decision and not have to make harder choices.”

The research found a steady increase in the rate of antibiotic prescriptions throughout the day.

“Instead of taking the time to explain to someone that they have a viral illness and they don’t need an antibiotic, it might be easier to write a prescription,” Linder said.

And that could be harmful to both health and healthcare costs.

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“Antibiotics that people don’t need, in addition to increasing the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, increase healthcare costs,” Linder said. “And probably more importantly for individual patients, expose them to medicines they don’t need and adverse drug events.”

Linder said possible solutions to the problem include breaks or snacks for doctors who are feeling fatigued, or simply making doctors aware of their tendencies.

“Doctors are people too,” Linder said. “We get fatigued and may not make the best decisions toward the end of our clinic sessions.”


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