Depending on the week and the driver, I am often awakened around 4 AM when one of several delivery trucks backs into the driveway of the restaurant beside my house, 15 feet from my bedroom. Rankled, I have been known to open the window and have words with the driver, who, in my opinion, should park on the street, thus creating a distance between our house and his beeping, rattling, diesel-idling, polluting truck with its slamming ramps and gates and whatnot. Because he mindlessly prioritizes a minute or so of his time over my and my wife's uninterrupted sleep. Sometimes, we just get back to sleep before the next truck comes and awakens us again.
In relating this story to my father, he told me that the residents of a Northeast Ohio municipality recently passed a city ordinance banning the picking up of garbage before a certain hour, because of complaints of the noise and disturbance that the rubbish trucks cause at earlier hours. Immediately drawing the analogy of the 4 AM phlebotomy visit in the hospital, my father wonders why, in the era of customer service, we subject the sick of society to this indignity and injustice while they're in the hospital. And the answer is that I don't know. A quick Google search is of little help.
There are two likely and possibly related reasons for the 4 AM blood draw. First, in days of yore, physicians rounded very early in the hospital and then went to their office or to the operating room. They wanted the lab results by the time they rounded so they could complete the rounding task and move on to others and not worry what Mrs. Jones' creatinine was all morning. So, in essence, we have historically been awakening patients at 4 AM for physicians' convenience.