, Volume 174, Issue 1, pp 21-25

The importance of microbiological investigations, medications and artificial feeding in diarrhoea evaluation

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Diarrhoea in hospitalised patients is usually attributed to medications especially antibiotics, enteral tube feeding or enteropathogenic bacteria particularlyClostridium difficile.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the investigations performed on patients who developed diarrhoea during their stay in an acute general hospital.


Over 18 working days, an unselected group of adult inpatients who developed diarrhoea following their admission to hospital were reviewed. Symptoms, medications, nutritional support and any investigations performed were assessed.


Eighty-one patients developed diarrhoea. Forty-nine (60%) were receiving antibiotics prior to the development of symptoms, 30 (37%) were being enterally tube fed, 14 (17%) had positive stool forClostridium difficile A and B toxin and 3 (4%) had salmonella species positive stool.


The majority of cases of diarrhoea were related to medications and enteral tube feeding. A small but significant number did develop bacterial infections. In contrast to some suggested guidelines, when investigating hospital acquired diarrhoea, it is considered worthwhile to perform microbiological stool examinations.