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author:("boxall, Harry")
1.  Management of suspected infectious diarrhoea by English GPs: are they right? 
Background
The criteria used when GPs submit stool specimens for microbiological investigation are unknown.
Aim
To determine what criteria GPs use to send stool specimens, and if they are consistent with national guidance, and whether GPs would prescribe an antibiotic before they receive a result.
Design and setting
Questionnaire survey of 974 GPs in 172 surgeries in England.
Method
GPs were sent a questionnaire (23 questions) based on national guidance.
Results
Questionnaires were returned by 90% (154/172) of surgeries and 49% (477/968) of GPs. GPs reported sending stool specimens in about 50% of cases of suspected infectious diarrhoea, most commonly because of individual symptoms, rather than public health implications. Fewer considered sampling with antibiotic-associated diarrhoea post hospitalisation, or children with acute, painful, bloody diarrhoea; only 14% mentioned outbreaks as a reason. Nearly one-half of GPs reported they would consider antibiotics in suspected cases of Escherichia coli O157, which is contraindicated. Only 23% of GPs would send the recommended three specimens for ova, cysts, and parasites (OCP) examination. Although 89% of GPs gave some verbal advice on how to collect stool specimens, only 2% of GPs gave patients any written instructions.
Conclusion
GPs need more education to address gaps in knowledge about the risks and diagnosis of different infections in suspected infectious diarrhoea, especially Clostridium difficile post-antibiotics, E. coli O157, and requesting OCPs. Advice on reports, tick boxes, or links to guidance on electronic request forms may facilitate this.
doi:10.3399/bjgp14X676429
PMCID: PMC3876145  PMID: 24567579
antibiotics; diarrhoea; E. coli O157; general practice; guidance; investigation
2.  Stool submission by general practitioners in SW England - when, why and how? A qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:77.
Background
We know little about when and why general practitioners (GPs) submit stool specimens in patients with diarrhoea. The recent UK-wide intestinal infectious disease (IID2) study found ten GP consultations for every case reported to national surveillance. We aimed to explore what factors influence GP’s decisions to send stool specimens for laboratory investigation, and what guidance, if any, informs them.
Methods
We used qualitative methods that enabled us to explore opinions and ask open questions through 20 telephone interviews with GPs with a range of stool submission rates in England, and a discussion group with 24 GPs. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to content analysis.
Results
Interviews: GPs only sent stool specimens to microbiology if diarrhoea persisted for over one week, after recent travel, or the patient was very unwell. Very few had a systematic approach to determine the clinical or public health need for a stool specimen. Only two GPs specifically asked patients about blood in their stool; only half asked about recent antibiotics, or potential food poisoning, and few asked about patients’ occupations. Few GPs gave patients advice on how to collect specimens.
Results from interviews and discussion group in relation to guidance: All reported that the HPA stool guidance and patient collection instructions would be useful in their clinical work, but only one GP (an interviewee) had previously accessed them. The majority of GPs would value links to guidance on electronic requests. Most GPs were surprised that a negative stool report did not exclude all the common causes of IID.
Conclusions
GPs value stool culture and laboratories should continue to provide it. Patient instructions on how to collect stool specimens should be within stool collection kits. Through readily accessible guidance and education, GPs need to be encouraged to develop a more systematic approach to eliciting and recording details in the patient’s history that indicate greater risk of severe infection or public health consequences. Mild or short duration IID (under one week) due to any cause is less likely to be picked up in national surveillance as GPs do not routinely submit specimens in these cases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-77
PMCID: PMC3481435  PMID: 22870944
Stool specimens; Microbiology; Laboratory submission; Diarrhoea; Primary care; Qualitative; National guidance

Results 1-2 (2)