From North Central Oklahoma Ostomy Outlook September 2010:

Hospitalization Guidelines for Ostomy Patients

by Dr. Lindsay Bard; via Chicago (IL) The New Outlook; and Hartford (CT) The Hartford Ostomy Update

It is important for a person with an ostomy to know how he/she should be handled differently than someone without an ostomy when you need to be hospitalized. It’s up to you. It is very important to communicate to medical personnel who take care of you, including every physician that treats you, that you have an ostomy, and what type of ostomy you have. Here are some rules to help you cover the details:

Rule 1 – The Cardinal Rule!

If you feel something is being done or going to be done to you that might be harmful, refuse the procedure. Then explain why to the medical personnel, especially your physician. They will then decide with you if the procedure will actually be in your best interests.

Rule 2 – Supplies

Bring your own supplies to the hospital. Never assume the hospital will have the exact pouching system or irrigation system you use. Most hospitals have some supplies available. These are used for emergency situations.

Rule 3 – Laxatives & Irrigations

Follow the points below concerning laxatives or irrigation practices, according to which type of ostomy you have. Medical personnel often assume all stomas are colostomies. But, of course, practices vary among the various types of ostomies.

Remember that laxatives or cathartics by mouth can be troublesome for people with colostomies. For people with ileostomies, they can be disastrous—people with ileostomies should always refuse them. A person with an ileostomy will have diarrhea, may become dehydrated and go into electrolyte imbalance. The only prep needed is to stop eating and drinking by midnight the night before surgery. An IV should be started the night before surgery to prevent dehydration.

Rule 4 – X-rays

X-rays present special problems for people with ostomies, again, differently managed according to ostomy type:

Rule 5 – Instructions

Bring with you to the hospital two copies of instructions for changing your pouching system and/or irrigating your colostomy. Provide one to your nurse for your chart and keep one with your supplies at bedside. If you bring supplies that are not disposable, mark them “do not discard.” Otherwise, you may lose them.

Rule 6 – Communicate!

Again, let me stress that you must communicate with the hospital personnel who take care of you. You will have a better hospital stay, and they will have an easier time treating you.


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This page last revised 2010-09-19

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