Providers caring for ostomy patients can soon use an algorithm that helps improve care management and patient safety, its proponents claim.

The algorithm consists of 11 assessments, beginning with the type of ostomy, and provides a pathway that leads to the selection of the best ostomy management option.

Janice Beitz, Ph.D., MSN, a professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden, was part of a team that developed the tool, which allows nurses to assess ostomy patients and their needs on a step-by-step basis. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 Americans have an ostomy.

“The majority of ostomy care is provided by non-specialized clinicians or caregivers and family members who do not have ostomy care expertise,” Beitz said. “There is a clear need for evidence-based guidelines in this area.”

The tool can “guide nurses through what they need to think about,” she added. “We found that this algorithm brings nurses up to a higher level of safety when treating patients, which was our goal.”

Findings are scheduled to be published in January’s Journal of Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing. ConvaTec is funding the project.