Nursing Scholar Helps WOC Nurses Deliver Optimal Care for Treating Stomal and Peristomal Complications

Janice Beitz

Janice Beitz

Patients living with an ostomy can suffer from numerous complications, but the exact prevalence of those complications and how to deal with them have largely remained unknown.

A Rutgers University–Camden nursing scholar is bringing them to light.

Janice Beitz, a professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden who specializes in acute and chronic wound, ostomy, and continence care, recently published a research study on prioritizing management approaches for ostomy complications.

“There was no organized approach for dealing with these complications,” says Beitz, a Cherry Hill resident. “When you refer to the medical literature, you come across the surgical technique for an ostomy, but there are no evidence-based guidelines for the best ways to deal with complications that arise from the diversions.”

Beitz continues, “I always say that nursing is a science and an art, and a lot of times, the science just isn’t there. It’s very much like saying, ‘take your best guess,’ but that’s not the way to deal with it.”

It is estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 Americans are living with an ostomy. Beitz says that given the aging population, more people are developing medical conditions that require an ostomy. Complications that may arise from the ostomy include irritated skin around the stoma, infection around the stoma, and wounds around the stoma related to underlying medical disorders.

During a research study funded by a grant from the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society, Beitz and her research colleague, Janice Colwell, a clinical WOC nursing specialist with the University of Chicago Medicine, surveyed certified WOC nurses to determine the most common stomal and peristomal complications and asked them to cite and rank the most successful treatments for each complication.

After reviewing 281 responses, Beitz says, “We now have a best practices guide to help nurses deal with these issues. There’s nothing else like it. It’s the first time we’ve gathered evidence supporting a systematic way to approach managing these stomal and peristomal complications, and there are interventions revealed in the surveys that we had never heard of before. We truly are creating the science for interventions for stomal and peristomal complications and it’s coming from nurses with clinical expertise.”

The study was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing.

“The thing that is gratifying to me is that not only is it improving care here, but it’s improving care internationally,” says Beitz, who notes that her research is being cited in articles and dissertations all over the world. “It allows nurses to have substantive support for determining the best treatment for a complication like irritant dermatitis around the stoma, for example. I find it exhilarating to help create the evidence base for safer practice.”

A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Beitz oversees the state’s first graduate certificate program in wound, ostomy, and continence nursing at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. She was part of a research team that developed an ostomy algorithm, a step-by-step aid that allows nurses to properly assess ostomy patients and their needs, and was also part of a team that developed an interactive online version of the algorithm for use on computers and mobile devices.

Beitz received her bachelor’s degree from La Salle University, her master’s degree from Villanova University, and her doctoral degree from Temple University. She also graduated from the Germantown Hospital School of Nursing and received her post-master’s certificate as an adult nurse practitioner from La Salle University.

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