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If You Need Medical Care and Have an Ostomy

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You probably have different health care teams that help care for you. Let them know about your ostomy. If you need to go to the hospital, take your ostomy supplies with you. The hospital might not have the same type you use.

Do not assume that all hospital staff know a lot about ostomies. Depending on the type of ostomy you have, you may need to do some explaining and teaching. Remember it might be a hospital where ostomy patients are rare, or you might need care for problems not related to your ostomy. Do not let the hospital staff do anything you think may be harmful. For example, if you have a tracheostomy, make sure they know the specific types of equipment you use. Or, if you have a colostomy or ileostomy, do not let them give you laxatives, give an enema through your stoma or rectum, or use a rectal thermometer. If you’re in doubt about any procedure, ask to talk to your doctor first.

Also ask to have the following information listed on your chart:

  • Type of ostomy you have
  • What part of your body has been removed (if any has)
  • Details of your management routine and the equipment and products used
  • Procedures to be avoided

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Thoracic Society. Living with a tracheostomy. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016;194:5-6. Accessed at on October 2, 2019.

Hollister. Caring for your child with a colostomy. Accessed at–for–download/ostomy–care/caring–for–your–child–with–ostomy_923057-0318.pdf on October 2, 2019.

Hollister. Caring for your loved one with a colostomy. Accessed at–for–download/ostomy–care/caring–for–a–loved–one–with–ostomy_923058-0318.pdf on October 2, 2019.

United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA).  Living with an ostomy. Accessed at on October 2, 2019.

United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA).  Living with an ostomy: FAQs. Accessed at on October 2, 2019.

Last Revised: October 2, 2019

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