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What to expect when you come to MassGeneral Hospital for Children for a surgery visit, including information about pre-admission testing, anesthesia, pre-op clinic visits and more.
If your child has been referred to MassGeneral Hospital for Children for surgery by your pediatrician or family practitioner, we’ll first schedule a consultation visit with you. You’ll learn more about your child’s surgery and ideally book the surgery date. At this point, you may also sign a consent form for your child’s surgery. Or you may send the signed form to us later, if you need additional time to decide whether to move forward with the surgery.
Depending on your child’s case, you may need to complete pre-admission testing that could include laboratory, blood work and other tests. Your physician will let you know ahead of time. In many cases, pre-admission testing isn’t performed for outpatient surgeries. Inpatient cases usually mean your child will have all tests completed the previous day since he/she will be admitted to the hospital the night before surgery. A pre-operative clinic visit also will be scheduled.
On the morning of surgery, patients will go to the third floor of the Wang Ambulatory Care Center. You’ll meet with the nursing staff, who will conduct a complete assessment of your child. Then you’ll meet with a nurse practitioner or medical or surgical resident (physicians who are completing extra years of training). Finally, you’ll meet with a representative from the Anesthesia Department who will explain how an anesthesiologist will help your child fall into a special sleep before surgery so he/she won’t feel any pain.
You’ll need to wear a “jump suit,” a kind of surgical scrubs, so you can stay with your child while the anesthesiologist is helping him/her fall asleep before the operation. Anesthesiologists usually have parents carry younger children into the operating room. Older children will be taken into the operating room on a gurney.
For longer surgical procedures, you will be asked for your cell phone number so you can step outside or get something to eat but still be reached if necessary. You’ll be notified when the surgical staff has an update for you. When your surgeon meets with you after the procedure, you’ll be able to see your child in the recovery area. Ideally we have parents in the recovery room as soon as the patient arrives and intraoperative information has been conveyed to the recovery team. Typically, children stay an hour or two in the recovery room prior to discharge home or up to the inpatient floors, if staying overnight. Parents may stay with their child around the clock if they’d like—there are no set visiting hours.
Before your child’s surgery, your doctor will request that you schedule a pre-operative clinic visit or phone call. The pre-op clinic visit is an opportunity to meet with members of the health care team to help you and your child feel more comfortable. You’ll also fill out forms and your child may undergo a few necessary tests ordered by your doctor. These tests can vary depending on your child’s case but can include:
Your care team may include a nurse practitioner, and/or anesthesiologist. They’ll gather information about your child’s medical history and will share information about how you can prepare for surgery. You and your child will learn what you can expect before, during and after surgery. Our goal is to make you and your child as comfortable as possible. We invite you to come prepared with a list of questions if you’d like.
Your child may eat and drink as usual before the pre-operative visit unless your doctor said not to.
Please bring these items with you to your appointment:
If you have questions or concerns about how to talk with your child about surgery, please contact child life specialist Kaitlyn Wallace, MS, CCLS, at 617-724-1211 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Child life services are also available on the day of surgery to help prepare your child for what to expect throughout the day.
This informative short video is hosted by a pediatric patient at MGHfC. She explains in child-friendly terms what will happen when children check in for surgery, including how vital signs are checked, who you may meet (including doctors, nurses and child life specialists), how anesthesia is administered, and why accompanying grown ups have to wear those funny blue suits.
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