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October 10, 2015

Ostomy blues

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A story for students about an ostomy patient from your friendly blogger:

When I was an ER Nurse, I was the ostomy whisperer. My coworkers HATED them, and I didn’t mind a whole lot. Also, I used to work SICU so I dealt with them a lot. I had a patient who showed up at the ER about 10 times because her INSURANCE COMPANY was delaying her ostomy supplies and she couldn’t afford them out of pocket. She was SO humiliated. She would come in, and I would change her bag, and later on I had her do it with my supervision, She had electrical tape holding the bag on sometimes. It was pathetic that a human being could not have her elimination needs taken care of except at an ER . She was a classy, sweet lady forced to have excrement dripping off of her clothes She would ask me my schedule so I would be there when she came in. I got a nice card from her after her supplies came through. I used the opportunity to give her the ‘tips and tricks’ for ostomy care, and I hope it helped her through a bad situation.

Insurance companies are obstructive at times, but this is a familiar story.  The question is, Why wasn’t the patient given enough supplies to see her through? Can’t vendors of ostomy supplies give hospitals care packages of supplies to get a patient through the interminable period when the supplies aren’t covered by insurance? They will see plenty of money for the supplies, as many people are NEVER getting that ostomy taken down.

As nurses, can we advocate for this?

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