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Can a CNA Change a Colostomy Bag?

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play a crucial role in the healthcare system, providing essential support to patients in various settings. The overall well-being and safety of patients are the first responsibility of any certified nursing assistant. He is the person who often has the most direct contact with the patient therefore a nursing assistant can quickly recognize risks associated with the patients’ health.

One of the areas where CNAs contribute significantly is in colostomy care. Due to their diverse role, it is often asked can a Certified nursing assistant can change a colostomy bag. This article explores the responsibilities of CNAs in colostomy care and answers the question: Can CNAs change a colostomy bag?

Understanding Colostomy:

Before delving into the role of CNAs, it’s important to understand what a colostomy is. A colostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening in the abdominal wall through which a portion of the colon is brought to the surface, forming a stoma. This helps eliminate waste when normal bowel function is impaired, often due to diseases like colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, or diverticulitis.

Read More: What is a colostomy bag used for

The Role of CNAs in Colostomy Care:

CNAs are frontline healthcare professionals trained to offer direct assistance and support to individuals requiring medical attention. This assistance includes a wide range of tasks, including basic healthcare, personal hygiene, and specialized care for conditions such as colostomies. CNAs are responsible for ensuring the comfort and well-being of individuals with colostomies. However, other roles and responsibilities of CNAs associated with colostomy vary from state to state.

Some states consider a stoma as an open wound; therefore they do not allow a nursing assistant to do things like changing bandages, taking care of wounds, or switching stoma equipment. However, in other states, nursing assistants can do all of these tasks.

In short, a nursing assistant can empty and change the colostomy bag but he is not allowed to change the flange or skin barrier.

Read More: What is the success rate of colostomy reversal

Changing a Colostomy Bag:

CNAs receive specialized training that includes colostomy care, allowing them to perform tasks such as changing a colostomy bag. They are allowed to change and empty the colostomy bag but they are not supposed to change the flange or skin barrier.

The process of changing a colostomy bag involves several steps. These include:

Read Here: Why would you need a colostomy bag

Step 1: Gather the necessary supplies

First of all, a certified nursing assistant should gather all the necessary supplies in a tray. The tray should have a new colostomy bag, disposable gloves, and a clean towel.

Step 2: Prepare the Patient:

Before changing the colostomy bag, CNAs need to ensure the patient is comfortable and positioned appropriately. This may involve explaining the procedure to the patient and addressing any concerns.

Step 3: Remove the old bag:

First of all, a CNA needs to empty the pouch before removing it. he, then carefully remove the existing colostomy pouch. Place the old and used colostomy bag into a plastic bag and throw it into the dust bin.

Read More: How dangerous is a colostomy reversal

Step 4: Wash and Clean the Stoma

The nursing assistant should carefully wipe and clean the skin around the stoma with a wet towel. He can also opt to use a specialized stoma cleanser for this purpose.

Step 5: Apply the New Bag

The nursing assistant will Carefully apply the new colostomy bag. CNAs ensure a secure leak-free fit. Gently press around the adhesive to secure it in place.

Read More: Do you need a colostomy bag after diverticulitis surgery?

Step 6 Document the Change

Note down the date and time of the colostomy bag change in the patient’s colostomy care record book.

While changing the bag, the nursing assistant should monitor changes in the colostomy site and the patient’s bowel function. They should quickly report any change to the licensed nurse.

Training and Certification:

CNAs undergo formal training programs that cover a range of nursing skills, including those related to specialized care such as colostomy management. Certification requirements vary by state, and some states may have specific regulations regarding the extent of colostomy care that CNAs can provide. CNAS must stay informed about their state’s regulations and seek additional training if necessary.

Read More: What to expect after colostomy surgery


Colostomy is not at all a complicated thing to manage. many patients who have undergone colostomy can provide self-care. However, there is a certain group of patients who are unable to do routine colostomy care due to age or any disability. In such cases, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) often play a crucial role in managing these aspects of patient care, both in acute care settings and at home.

The question of whether a CNA can change a colostomy bag is dependent on various factors, including state regulations and the policies of healthcare facilities. While CNAs are eligible to change the colostomy bag they are not supposed to change the flange.

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