CAMDEN — Many people diagnosed with colon cancer or bladder cancer require an ostomy — a surgical procedure in which an opening is created on the abdomen for the discharge of body waste. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 Americans are living with an ostomy.
Those patients may not be receiving the most effective patient care.
Janice Beitz, a professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, says the best evidence-based practices aren’t always applied to wound, ostomy, and continence care. The Rutgers–Camden nursing scholar is working to correct that situation.
“It’s our role as care providers to protect the patient as best we can, but what we know theoretically and what happens in the real world sometimes doesn’t connect,” says Beitz, a nurse practitioner and clinical specialist in wound, ostomy, and continence care nursing.
Beitz has dedicated her research to developing algorithms to determine the best practices for ostomy care and building a model that advises medical professionals on the appropriate device (or pouch) for ostomy patients.
“Given the aging population and the aging South Jersey population in particular, more and more people are developing medical conditions that require an ostomy,” Beitz says.
Furthermore, New Jersey has a high rate of colorectal cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and many of those patients require an ostomy.
That is why proper ostomy care is more critical than ever.
“We want the patient to experience minimal or no complications because the appropriate device is being used,” Beitz says. “Every patient is different and we want to create the blueprint for choosing the safest and best product.”
Beitz is also developing algorithms to determine how to best prevent pressure ulcers (bed sores), which occur when patients become bedridden, and is working to find the best technology to use for negative pressure wound therapy, which helps to heal acute or chronic wounds.
In an article published in Ostomy Wound Management in April 2012 and co-authored by Lia van Rijswijk, an assistant professor of nursing at Holy Family University School of Nursing and Health Professions, Beitz states that most negative pressure wound therapy guidelines that have been developed for specific wounds are based on expert consensus, but have not been validated.
“There is a high risk for medical errors or mistakes in the care of these patients and one way to reduce the risk is to develop the science underlying the care nurses provide to patients,” she says. “Everything I do is to improve patient care. That’s the bottom line for me. Otherwise, it would just be a mental exercise if it didn’t matter in the real world.”
She continues, “The whole movement in healthcare now must be toward evidence-based practice. As a nation, we can’t afford to not do it that way. We only have so many resources to provide healthcare for people.”
A Cherry Hill resident and Philadelphia native, Beitz joined the Rutgers–Camden nursing faculty in 2012 after teaching at La Salle University.
She has co-authored more than 25 research publications and more than 75 articles in refereed nursing and interdisciplinary journals. She also co-authored multiple book chapters and one book.
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 from La Salle University.
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Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse