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Diarrhoea

Find assessment and management information at Brisbane South HealthPathways under:

Useful management information

  • Refer to HealthPathways
  • Consider referral to a dietitian or faecal incontinence
NB: If a patient has been fully investigated 2 years prior to referral, then the referrer and the receiving clinician will need to exercise clinical decision making in triaging and/or value in repeat endoscopy/colonoscopy procedures

Minimum referral criteria (Does your patient meet the minimum criteria?)

Does your patient meet the minimum referral criteria?

Category 1
(appointment within 30 calendar days)

If you feel your patient meets Category 1 criteria, please mark “urgent” on your referral

  • Diarrhoea > 6 weeks that is affecting activities of daily living and with any of the following concerning features
    • bloody or nocturnal diarrhoea
    • weight loss, ≥5% of body weight in previous 6 months
    • persistent abdominal pain
    • iron deficiency in males and postmenopausal women or unexplained iron deficiency in premenopausal women
    • patient and family history of bowel cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
Category 2
(appointment within 90 calendar days)
  • Diarrhoea > 6 weeks without concerning features
Category 3
(appointment within 365 calendar days)
  • No category 3 criteria

If your patient does not meet the minimum referral criteria

  • Assessment and management information can be found on a range of conditions at Brisbane South HealthPathways
  • If the patient does not meet the criteria for referral but the referring practitioner believes the patient requires specialist review, a clinical override may be requested:
    • Please explain why (e.g. warning signs or symptoms, clinical modifiers, uncertain about diagnosis, etc.)
  • Please note that your referral may not be accepted or may be redirected to another service

Standard referral information (To be included in all referrals)

Reason for request

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

Relevant clinical information about the condition

  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • All conservative options that have been pursued unsuccessfully prior to referral
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes, BMI), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Any special care requirements where relevant (e.g tracheostomy in place, oxygen required)
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use
  • A comprehensive capture of information in relation to MSH Referral Criteria

Clinical modifiers

  • The presence of clinical modifiers may impact the categorisation of the patient.
  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living functioning – low/medium/high
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Patient's Demographic Details

  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date and country of birth
  • Residential and postal address including whether patient resides at an aged care facility
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Name of delegate and contact details (Department of Corrective Services)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Any special needs, access requirements and/or disability relevant to the referral

Referring Practitioner Details

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature
  • Nominated general practitioner’s details (if known), if the nominated general practitioner is different from the referring practitioner

Other relevant information

  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)

 

Essential referral information for Diarrhoea referrals (Referral will be returned without this)

  • Patient and family history of gastrointestinal cancer e.g. relationship to patient, age of cancer diagnosis and type of cancer
  • ELFT, FBC, TSH, Iron studies results
  • Coeliac disease serology results
  • Stool test results
  • Previous gastrointestinal investigations and results (date and report)

If a specific test result is unable to be obtained due to access, financial, religious, cultural or consent reasons a Clinical Override may be requested. This reason must be clearly articulated in the body of the referral.

Additional referral information for Diarrhoea referrals

  • CRP, Faecal calprotectin, if inflammatory bowel disease is suspected
  • Relevant imaging reports
  • Clostridium difficile toxin (if recent antibiotics)
  • Recent travel history

Emergency

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

  • Potentially life threatening symptoms suggestive of:
  • acute upper GI tract bleeding
    • acute severe lower GI tract bleeding
    • oesophageal foreign bodies/food bolus
    • Acute Severe Colitis*
    • bowel obstruction
    • abdominal sepsis
  • Severe vomiting and/or diarrhoea with dehydration
  • Acute/fulminant liver failure (to be referred to a centre with dedicated hepatology services
  • Biliary sepsis (to be referred to a centre with ERCP service)


* Acute severe colitis as defined by the Truelove and Witts criteria – all patients with ≥ 6 bloody bowel motions per 24 hours plus at least one of the following:

  • temperature at presentation of > 37.8°C,
  • pulse rate at presentation of > 90 bpm,
  • haemoglobin at presentation of < 105 gm/l, CRP >30mg/dl at presentation (or ESR > 30 mm/hr)

Out of catchment

Metro South Health is responsible for providing public health services to the people who reside within its boundaries. Special consideration is made for patients requiring tertiary care or services that are not provided by their local Hospital and Health Service.  If your patient lives outside the Metro South Health area and you wish to refer them to one of our services, inclusion of information regarding their particular medical and social factors will assist with the triaging of your referral.

Last updated 9 December 2022