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Independents' Day

Labs' failure on H. pylori stool tests

Fewer than a third of clinical microbiology labs are using stool testing to test for H. pylori, despite evidence it is the best method of testing.

A Pulse investigation has shown over 70 per cent of

labs are still exclusively using serology testing, with potent-ially serious repercussions for

patient care. Gastroenterology experts expressed concern at the findings, warning serology testing would continue to produce high rates of false positives and false negatives.

Of the 15 laboratories surveyed by Pulse, 11 were exclusively using serology and just four provided stool testing.

Dr Richard Stevens, chair of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology and a GP in Oxford, said: 'Stool testing is hugely important, and has a predictive value of sensitivity and specificity that's really quite high. This is increasingly important if you're not able to afford endoscopic diagnosis.

'If labs continue to use serology, they will be getting false

positives and false negatives. You'll end up with a cost in human terms – you won't be treating people correctly and you might be giving unnecessary treatment. It's up to commissioning groups to start commissioning decent diagnostics.'

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