OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to assess new ostomy patients for the presence of peristomal complications when they returned for their 2-month postoperative follow-up at a major university hospital. DESIGN: A prospective descriptive design was used. Setting and subjects: For 1 year, new ostomy patients were seen at a 540-bed university-based hospital. Subjects included 220 patients with ostomies who underwent a fecal or urinary diversion at a university-based hospital. INSTRUMENTS AND METHODS: For 12 months, each patient who returned for a 2-month follow-up visit was assessed by 1 of 3 WOC nurses for the presence or absence of peristomal complications using a tool developed by the investigators. The study was conducted from August 2001 to August 2002. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data. RESULTS: A total of 220 new ostomy patients were examined, 35 of whom had peristomal complications for a frequency of 16%. Sixteen of the 35 patients had ileostomies, 10 patients had colostomies, and 9 patients had ileal conduits. Of the 35 patients with peristomal complications, 24 had irritant dermatitis, 7 had mechanical injury, and 3 had Candida infections. The WOC nurses determined the causes of the peristomal complications to be related to flush stomas, peristomal hernias, inappropriate opening in the skin barrier, and mechanical injury from the pouching systems. Nine of 35 patients had flush stomas; 5 patients developed peristomal hernias. For 7 patients, the skin barrier in the pouching system was larger than the stoma, allowing the effluent to contact the peristomal skin, resulting in denuded peristomal skin; and 7 patients had pressure areas on the peristomal skin and were wearing convex pouching systems. CONCLUSIONS: With more laparoscopic ostomy surgeries resulting in decreased hospital stays, there is less opportunity for the patient to learn pouching techniques and problem solving regarding peristomal complications. Patients require more education regarding peristomal issues and follow-up after discharge to ensure the maintenance of a secure pouching system. Decreased hospital stays and decreased reimbursement for outpatient and home health services will continue to be a challenge for the WOC nurse. There is also a need for universal definitions of complications and the need for continued studies examining the frequency of these complications, as well as the role of stoma site marking in reducing these complications.
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