A Case for Abandoning Inpatient Fecal Occult Blood Testing

Link to article at PubMed

Cureus. 2020 Jun 24;12(6):e8807. doi: 10.7759/cureus.8807.


Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) is currently Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved only for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. There is now widespread off-label use of FOBT in the hospital setting as a diagnostic test. Here we present a brief case and a more detailed review of the literature arguing against inpatient FOBT. Inpatient use of FOBT is problematic for several reasons including failure to account for false positives or negatives, delays in appropriate consultations or endoscopy, increased costs, increase length of stays, unnecessary procedures, and test results that do not change management. Inappropriate use of FOBT can lead to both overuse and underuse of endoscopy. Many retrospective audit studies and more recently a meta-analysis have shown that FOBTs have poor test performance and are unable rule out the need for endoscopy in patients with iron deficiency anemia. For these reasons we argue that inpatient FOBT should be abandoned.

PMID:32724753 | PMC:PMC7381841 | DOI:10.7759/cureus.8807

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