Mountain View Medical Supply

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Proper Care & Storage of Ostomy Supplies

Ostomy supplies are not inexpensive, to say the least.  So, it’s important to understand how to apply them properly, and equally important to know how to take care of and store supplies until use.  Proper care and storage helps make your ostomy supply expenses as economical as possible.

When you receive your ostomy supplies, especially when they are a new brand or type, be sure to read carefully the instruction sheet and guidelines included in the box.  They may include specific recommendations for that given product.  Review instructions periodically to refresh your memory, and to see if any recommendations have changed over time.

Generally speaking, all ostomy supplies should be stored in a cool, dry location.  Too much heat can melt or weaken many of the materials used in ostomy wafers/barriers, pouches or accessory items.  Avoid leaving supplies in a hot car, or in direct sunlight. 

Keep supplies such as wafers/barriers and pouches in their original box.  By doing so, you save the brand name, product identification number, and the lot/date information for those specific items.  You may never need this information, but in the event you do, you will be glad you have it.  When reporting quality control problems all of the information on the box will be required.  Or, if you find yourself in a pinch and needing to buy from a new source, you are sure to get the exact product you need. 

Some ostomy suppli8es do have a “shelf-life”.  Meaning, the product may have an expiration date.  If this is the case, the dates may be recorded on their containers.  If you find you have a box with an expired date, check with manufacturer, your local supplier, or an ostomy nurse for advice on usage.  To ensure you don’t end up with older, expired product, practice the FIFO method:  First In, First Out.  Place your new product behind the old product so you are sure to reach for the older product, and use it first.

While you do want to keep a stock of supplies so you are always prepared to change out your system, avoid the practice of stockpiling too much.  You want to make sure your reserve is as fresh as possible.  Of course, this depends on factors such as availability, proximity to a local supplier, or shipping issues.  Also, be sure to purchase supplies from a trusted vendor – one you know that will provide good service as well as stock or easily ship your required product supplies.  If you find yourself with a fairly uncommon product, most suppliers will stock your product for you if you become a regular customer.

Be sure to report defective supplies.  If you determine your supplies are defective in spite of proper use and storage, contact the manufacturer at their toll-free number listed on the box, to report the problem.  All major ostomy supply brands will either send a replacement or make adjustments.  Also, let your supply source know of your report to the manufacturer.  They also need to be aware of product problems, especially if they are providing product to you.

Adapted from Proper Care and Storage of Ostomy Supplies, by Teresa Murphy-Stowers, via Ostomy Association of Metro Denver, Inc., UOAA Update, October 2014

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