If your child requires emergency surgery, there is limited time to prepare yourself and your child. The news can be a total surprise, and the urgent nature of the procedure can be very frightening. The most important thing parents can do is to remain calm, reassure their child, and ask as many questions as necessary to understand the situation.
For elective or required surgeries, it is valuable to prepare yourself before meeting with your child's surgeon. There are several things you should bring with you to enable the surgeon to develop a complete picture of the problem or condition, including the following:
Copies of any X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans already done
Results of lab tests
Complete medical history record (this can be sent by your child's doctor in advance)
List of all medications, including prescription and over-the-counter, your child is taking (or has recently taken), or the medications themselves
List of all allergies your child has (especially latex allergy)
The surgeon will review the tests already done, your child's medical history, and the medications your child is currently taking. A complete physical exam will then be done to assess your child's current health status. If more tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis, the surgeon will discuss them with you at this time. Your child's doctor will expect you to ask questions, and it will be very helpful if you write them down in advance, so you can ask everything you want to know. The following is a list of commonly asked questions when preparing your child for surgery:
Is there any alternative to having surgery?
What are the expected results?
What are the possible risks and complications?
How long will the surgery take?
What type of anesthesia is required for this surgery?
How long will my child have to stay in the hospital?
Will my child have any pain and what kind of medicine will he or she receive for it?
Will my child require a blood transfusion?
What will the incision look like and will I need to change dressings? Will there be scarring? Will there be stitches to remove?
Will my child require antibiotics, or other medications, after surgery?
What postoperative care will be required?
When can my child resume normal activities?
After your questions have been answered, your child's surgery can be scheduled (considering the urgency of the surgery, your child's condition, and the surgeon's availability). The surgeon's office and the hospital admitting office will assist in getting preapproval from your insurance company before the day of surgery.
If additional questions should arise before your child's scheduled surgery, call your child's surgeon. Your confidence in knowing what will happen before, during, and after surgery will help you in preparing your child.