We understand surgery can be frightening, especially for a child. By preparing children in advance on what to expect from their experience, we hope to relieve any fears through education. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions for parents to help you manage the experience.
How can I prepare my child for surgery?
Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital offers a pre-surgery program for children from ages 4 to 10 years old. The program is led by a Child Life Specialist, a member of the healthcare team specifically trained to work with children, and includes a video, a tour of the surgical area and is a time for children to ask questions. Play is involved in teaching. Siblings are welcome. The tour lasts 30-45 minutes and your child will receive a certificate upon completion. Call (225) 765-6968 to reserve your spot for the pre-surgery program.
In addition, there is a DVD available that explains what your child can expect when having surgery. The DVD is in the form of a cartoon and follows Bud E Bear's surgical experience. This cartoon, when accompanied by a pre-operative tour, is the perfect combination to ensure that your child is emotionally prepared for surgery.
My child is older and might not be able to relate to a cartoon or tour. What can I do?
Surgery can be frightening for a child of any age. Our Child Life Specialists work with children of all ages and are trained to explain in age appropriate terms what your child can expect and answer any questions they may have.
I am the child's grandparent/legal guardian. May I consent for his or her surgery?
Only parents or legal guardians with proof of guardianship may give consent for surgery.
Grandparents who are not legal guardians may not. If you are a foster parent or not the legal guardian please bring the phone number of the social worker or parent so that we may obtain consent by phone. We cannot proceed with surgery on a child if consent has not been obtained.
Can my child have anything to eat or drink before surgery?
No. General anesthesia is safest when given on an empty stomach. Surgery is likely to be canceled or postponed if these instructions are not followed. Please do not give your child anything to eat or drink including ice chips, hard candy, gum or lollipops. The usual time that your child does not eat or drink anything is midnight; please check with your surgeon as this may vary depending on age.
Are there things that I should notify the staff or doctor about?
Yes. If your child develops a cough, fever, chest cold or has an asthma attack within three days of scheduled surgery, you should call your doctor.
Why must we arrive at the hospital 2 hours before surgery?
Surgery time is estimated. The procedure can be earlier or later than the scheduled time. This time frame allows for flexibility on the day of surgery. During this time you will complete the necessary paperwork required for surgery, meet with the anesthesiologist, nurses and speak with your doctor prior to surgery. This time will also help your child get comfortable in this new environment and meet the people caring for him/her.
Where do I go when I arrive at the hospital?
You and your child will go to the St. Mary's Tower Admissions area, which is near the escalator on the second floor at the main entrance. For your convenience, there is an elevator around the corner form the escalator.
What do I need to bring on the day of surgery?
You will need to bring a list or the actual prescription medications your child takes at home. If your child takes a bottle, please bring it with the formula so it can be given after surgery. We will provide juice and water after surgery; if your child uses a sippy cup, please bring it with you. He or she may want to bring a favorite blanket, toy or stuffed animal.
What should my child wear?
You will want to bathe/shower your child the night before or the morning of surgery. Your child can wear pajamas or any other comfortable clothing.
Will I be able to stay with my child while he or she is put under anesthesia?
The operating room is a sterile environment. As a result we are unable to allow parents to accompany their child to the operating room. However you will be able to remain with your child until he/she is taken to the operating room. To help your child feel more comfortable, a Child Life Specialist will remain with your child and escort him/her to the operating room.
How soon will I be able to see my child after the surgery is finished?
Approximately 10-15 minutes after the surgery is complete, you will be able to join your child in the recovery room.
What can I do if my child is in pain after surgery?
Talk to the nurse if you have any concerns about your child's pain level. You can help, too. Use touch to comfort him/her. Tell your child about what is happening in his or her body and why there is pain. Don't down play or deny pain your child is feeling. Keeping your own fears or nervousness under control is helpful, as it may feed your child's nervousness.
Who should I call if I have questions?
Please call the Pre-Admission and Registration Center (PARC) at (225) 765-8378 and we will be glad to assist you.