Your Child's Preoperative Information

Healthcare provider listening to girl's chest with stethoscope.Your child is having surgery. In the time before surgery, you may need to take your child to the hospital for a pre-op clinical visit. A healthcare provider will give you specific information about how to prepare your child for surgery. Be sure to ask any questions you have at this time. Knowing what to expect can help you and your child feel more comfortable about surgery.

What to expect before surgery

  • A pre-op clinical visit. Your child may need to see a healthcare provider to check his or her health before surgery. During this visit, healthcare providers may ask about health history, and do a physical exam, and various tests. Let the healthcare provider know if your child has recently been ill, has any allergies, or is taking any medicines. The healthcare provider will also do a physical exam on your child. This includes checking your child’s vital signs, such as temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. If needed, the healthcare provider may order lab tests, such as blood or urine tests, and X-rays and imaging tests.

  • Meet or speak with a hospital staff member. A healthcare provider will give you information about preparing your child for surgery. You may get this information while you’re at the hospital, or over the phone. A healthcare provider will instruct you when to stop giving your child food, drink, and medicines before surgery. Someone will also tell you what to bring with you on the day of the surgery. You may receive a checklist or a handout with these instructions. You may want to prepare your own list of questions ahead of time.  

  • Take a tour of the surgery and patient care areas. Check with hospital staff if a tour of the surgery and patient care areas is available. Schedule a tour for you and your child, if possible.

  • Meet with a child life specialist. Some hospitals have a child life specialist. This person is trained to help children understand what to expect during their time in the hospital. Books, videos, dolls, and toys may be used to help explain surgery. Family members are encouraged to be involved in this session. Check with hospital staff if child life services are available. Schedule a session, if possible.

What to bring with you to the hospital

Following are items that you may need to bring with you to the hospital when it’s time for your child’s surgery:

  • Identification information for you and your child (such as a driver’s license or social security card)

  • Health insurance cards

  • Proof of guardianship (if you are not the child’s natural parent)

  • Medical records for your child

  • List of medicines your child is taking

  • Comfort item such as a toy or blanket for your child

  • Extra underwear or diapers for your child

  • Extra clothing for you and your child if an overnight stay or longer is expected

  • Books, toys, or games for your child to play with