Gastroenterological Society of Australia

Recommendations from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia on colonoscopies, fecal occult blood testing, proton pump inhibitors, coeliac disease & endoscopy. The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) sets, promotes and continuously improves the standards of practice, training and research in gastroenterology and hepatology in Australia.

Do not undertake faecal occult blood testing in patients who report rectal bleeding, or require investigation for iron deficiency or gastrointestinal symptoms

Date reviewed: 1 October 2016

The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) was developed for use in the outpatient setting for colorectal cancer screening in asymptomatic patients with average risk of colorectal carcinoma. Studies suggest that it has limited positive impact for hospitalised patients who report rectal bleeding or require investigation for iron deficiency or gastrointestinal symptoms, as it is unlikely to change patient management and may in fact delay investigations while waiting for the results of the test. Inappropriate use of the FOBT may lead to unnecessary additional investigations (e.g. colonoscopy), which also carries risks and may limit the availability of such investigations for more appropriate indications.

Supporting evidence
  • Friedman A, Chan A, Chin LC, et al. Use and abuse of faecal occult blood tests in an acute hospital patient setting. Int Med Journal 2010;40:107-11.
  • Ip S, Sokoro AAH, Kaita L, et al. Use of fecal occult blood testing in hospitalized patients: results of an audit. Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014;28(9):489-94.
  • Sharma VK, Komanduri S, Nayyar S, et al. An audit of the utility of in-patient fecal occult blood testing. Am J Gastroenterol 2001;96(4):1256-60.
How this list was made How this list was made

The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) initially engaged its members through its regular online communications, sharing the aims of the EVOLVE initiative, as well as background information on the US and Canadian versions of Choosing Wisely. Members were provided with a copy of the five recommendations made by the American Gastroenterology Association. GESA also consulted externally, with the EVOLVE Lead Fellow addressing the GUT club and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Group on the initiative. All members of GESA were invited to submit proposed items for the Top 5 list. The GESA Council reviewed all items before reaching consensus on the recommended final list. A review of the evidence for the shortlisted items was then undertaken and the final list and its rationales were signed off by the GESA Council in May 2016.

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