Stool Specimen Collection
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Stool is collected to determine the presence of blood, ova and parasites, pathogens, or such substances as ingested drugs. Gross examination of stool characteristics, including color, consistency, and odor, can reveal such conditions as GI bleeding and steatorrhea.
Stool specimens may be collected over a specific time period, such as 48, 72, or 96 hours. Typically, timed specimens are used to test for fat, porphyrins, urobilinogen, nitrogen, and electrolytes. Because stool specimens can’t be obtained on demand, proper collection requires careful instructions to the patient to ensure an uncontaminated specimen.
Sample container with lid ▪ gloves ▪ two tongue blades ▪ paper towel or paper bag ▪ bedpan or portable commode ▪ laboratory request form and laboratory biohazard transport bag ▪ specimen label ▪ patient care reminder ▪ enema equipment. (See “Enema Administration,” page 272.)
Verify the doctor’s order for the stool collection.
Confirm the patient’s identity using at least two patient identifiers according to your facility’s policy.1
Explain the procedure to the patient and his family, if possible, to ensure their cooperation and prevent inadvertent disposal of timed stool samples.
Tell the patient to notify you when he has the urge to defecate. Have him defecate into a clean, dry bedpan or commode. Instruct him not to contaminate the sample with urine or toilet tissue because urine inhibits fecal bacterial growth and toilet tissue contains bismuth, which interferes with test results. If the patient is female and is menstruating, instruct her not to contaminate the sample with menstrual blood.
Random Stool Collection
If the patient is incontinent, collect a stool sample from an incontinence pad or diaper.
Using a tongue blade, transfer the most representative stool sample from the bedpan to the container, and cap the container.
If the patient passes blood, mucus, or pus with the stool, include this with the sample.
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