Collecting a Stool Sample

Most of the time when I have collected a stool sample from a patient, it is to test it to clostridium difficile (c-diff).  In these situations, the patients usually has extremely liquid diarrhea which makes getting a stool sample much easier.  Make sure to use excellent hand hygiene (especially with c-diff patients) to ensure that you don't transfer any of the little bacterium to anyone else!

Supplies: Sterile specimen container, stool scooper (or just a spoon!)

Isn't this always a favorite sample to collect? One of the common reasons for collecting a stool sample is if a patient has a new onset uncontrolled diarrhea. In the ICU, we are oftentimes ruling out a Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff) infection by sending a stool specimen.

For bedridden patients, the easiest way to get a stool sample is to have the patient have a bowel movement in a bedpan. Prior to placing the bedpan below them, line it with plastic. This will make transfer of the sample much easier. After the patient has pooped, take the bedpan and scoop a small portion (a spoonful or two will suffice) into a sterile collection container. Seal the lid and send to the lab.

Caution: Make sure that your sample is as clean as possible. Tell the patient not to mix the sample with urine (if possible) or contaminate it with toilet paper. Be sure to label specimen container with the patient's sticker and your initials, date, and the time.

Learn how to collect a urine sample, sputum sample, or blood sample