As a new DON, I have instructed my staff to remove, rinse and reuse colostomy bags. Do you agree?

As a person who has a colostomy, I do not agree with reusing bags. I choose to use a one-piece system. Therefore, I empty my pouch and flush what I have emptied. I use a baby wipe to clean off the end of the bag and then close it up. I change the bag as necessary, or every two to three days.

You never want to leave the bag on for five days or more since the skin can become red, or acquire a yeast under the bag. Remember, yeast love warm and moist environments. 

Medicare will pay for 20 colostomy bags per month. There is a new product out called Colo-majic that is a flushable bag insert for colostomy bags. This disposable bag serves as a liner for the regular colostomy bag and would prevent the staff from having to empty, rinse and reuse the bags as you are currently having them do. (Full disclosure: I have no financial interest in this company.)

It would be great for prevention of infection, too, because if a resident who has a colostomy has MRSA or c. Diff, you certainly don’t want the feces to be splashed when dumping the bag. And where are they rinsing them? I am sure if no one is watching, it could be the same sink the resident is washing up and brushing their teeth from. I know that was not in your instructions or policy, but we all know what happens the minute someone is rushed or short-staffed.

Use the internet to look up this liner. I am not sure if it is covered by Medicare, but it is covered by most insurance plans I know of. I think it would be worth the peace of mind, improved infection control practices, and a happier staff to have them on hand, whether or not they’re covered by your supply budget or the resident and/or their family.