Management of suspected infectious diarrhoea by English GPs: are they right?

Cliodna A McNulty, Gemma Lasseter, Neville Q Verlander, Harry Yoxall, Philippa Moore, Sarah J O'Brien, Mark Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e24-30
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number618
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • General Practice
  • Infection
  • management options


Dive into the research topics of 'Management of suspected infectious diarrhoea by English GPs: are they right?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this