Low Yield of FilmArray GI Panel in Hospitalized Patients with Diarrhea: an Opportunity for Diagnostic Stewardship Intervention

J Clin Microbiol. 2018 Feb 22;56(3):e01558-17. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01558-17. Print 2018 Mar.


The FilmArray GI panel (BioFire Diagnostics, Salt Lake City, UT) is a multiplex, on-demand, sample-to-answer, real-time PCR assay for the syndromic diagnosis of infectious gastroenteritis that has become widely adopted and, in some instances, has replaced conventional stool culture and parasite exams. Conventional testing has historically been restricted among hospitalized patients due to low diagnostic yield, but it is not known whether use of the FilmArray GI panel should be circumscribed. Cary-Blair stool samples submitted for FilmArray GI panel in adult patients admitted to an academic hospital from August 2015 to January 2017 were included in this study. Of 481 tests performed >72 h after admission, 29 (6.0%) were positive, all for a single target, excluding Clostridium difficile When follow-up tests beyond the first positive per hospitalization were excluded, 20 (4.8%) of 414 tests were positive. There was no difference in yield by immune status. Most targets detected were viral (79% of all positives [n = 23] and 70% in unique patients [n = 14]). All four cases positive for a bacterial target could not be confirmed and presentation was atypical, suggesting possible false positives. After removing potential false positives and chronic viral shedders, the yield was 3.0% (12/406). Repeat testing performed >72 h after admission and following a negative result within the first 72 h was done in 19 patients and 100% (22/22) remained negative. The FilmArray GI panel has low yield in adult patients hospitalized for >72 h, similar to conventional stool microbiology tests, and it is reasonable to restrict its use in this population.

Keywords: FilmArray GI Panel; diagnostic stewardship; diarrhea; syndromic testing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diarrhea / diagnosis*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Feces / virology
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / diagnosis*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies