Medical Surgical GI bleed #1

Question

The nurse conducts a health history interview for a client who presents with, “black stools.” To determine if the stool color is caused by food, which question does the nurse ask the client?

Answers

  1. “Have you eaten beets in the last couple of days?”
    • Rationale:

      Beets would likely cause the client’s stool to be red, not black, in color. Eating licorice, which is black can cause stools to be black in color.

  2. “Have you eaten carrots in the last couple of days?”
    • Rationale:

      Carrots would likely cause the client’s stool to be red, not black, in color. Eating licorice, which is black can cause stools to be black in color.

  3. “Have you eaten spinach in the last couple of days?”
    • Rationale:

      Spinach would likely cause the client’s stool to be green, not black, in color. Eating licorice, which is black can cause stools to be black in color.

  4. “Have you eaten licorice in the last couple of days?”
    • Rationale:

      Bismuth, iron, licorice, and charcoal are all substances that can turn stool black in color; therefore, the nurse assesses for the consumption of these items during the health history interview for the client who presents with black stools.

Overview

The characteristics of the stool can vary greatly. Eating licorice, which is black can cause stools to be black in color.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Stool is normally light to dark brown. However, specific disease processes and ingestion of certain foods and medications may change the appearance of stool. While tarry, black stools can be indicative of bleeding in the GI tract, it can also be caused by the ingestion of licorice; therefore, the nurse asks the client, “Have you eaten licorice in the last couple of days?” to rule out food as the culprit for the change in stool color. Blueberries, iron pills, blood sausage, and meds containing bismuth may also cause stools to be black in color.

Test Taking Tip

Consider the impact that food has on the color of stool to answer this question correctly.

Video Rationale