When a child undergoes surgery, it is normal for a parent to feel anxious. At White Plains Hospital, we do our best to make both you and your child as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Because we recognize that parents are an important part of a child’s recovery, our visitation policy allows parents to be with their child as he or she awakens from anesthesia in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).
Following are some frequently asked questions about pediatric surgery. You should also review information on Preparing for Surgery for important pre-surgery guidelines.
Who may visit a child in the PACU?
Due to space limitations and consideration for other parents, visitation is restricted to one parent or legal guardian per child. Please decide in advance who will stay with the child in the PACU. To minimize disruption, one parent should remain with the child throughout his/her entire stay in the PACU. Instruct all family members and friends to remain in the waiting room. They will be notified when the child is discharged from the PACU. Communication between family members and the parent is not encouraged, again to keep disruption to a minimum.
What happens in the PACU?
Following surgery, your child will be transported to the PACU. The PACU nurse will take your child’s vital signs such as blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates. The PACU nurse will receive a report from the OR nurse, anesthesiologist, and surgeon, and perform an initial post-operative assessment. Your child will be monitored continuously until awake enough to return to the outpatient area or Pediatric Department.
Every attempt will be made to keep your child comfortable and as pain-free as possible. Older children will be instructed before surgery to let the nurse know when pain occurs. A Pain Scale may be used to determine pain; a non-verbal scale will be used for younger children. Pain medication will be administered according to the anesthesiologist’s instructions.
When may I visit?
The nurse will evaluate your child and decide when you may be called into the PACU. There are a number of factors to consider, so please do not be alarmed if you are not called in immediately. Understand that it may become necessary for you to leave at any time during your visit.
How will my child look?
Your child will be connected to monitoring equipment, oxygen, and have an IV line inserted. Each child reacts differently to anesthesia. Some children will be restless, while others will seem to sleep for an unusually long period of time. Both of these responses are normal.
What can I do for my child?
Your presence can boost your child’s recovery time. That is why it is important that you do not leave your child’s bedside in the PACU. The PACU nurse will instruct you on the most appropriate measures to assist in your child’s recovery. Some children need to sleep undisturbed while the anesthesia wears off; you may be asked to sit and monitor your child quietly until he awakens on his own. The nurse may also ask you to hold, speak to, and soothe your child.
If you feel uncomfortable or distressed while visiting, please tell your child’s nurse. It is our desire to provide a safe, comfortable environment for both you and your child. The nursing staff will be happy to answer questions concerning your child’s recovery and to help make you feel comfortable during your visit.