If your child is having minor surgery, he or she may be discharged home a few hours after the procedure. Your child's healthcare team will make sure that he or she is fully awake. He or she will also be sure that your child's vital signs (for example, heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, and blood pressure) are normal. Your child also needs to be able to take some liquids by mouth without vomiting.
Even after minor surgery, some children will stay in the hospital overnight and get medicines to help with pain or to prevent infection. One parent will be able to stay with your child overnight. In the morning, your surgeon will examine your child and determine if he or she may go home.
If your child is discharged within 24 hours after surgery, you may notice he or she:
May sleep more than usual for the first day or two at home
May have some nausea and vomiting, or no appetite
May be a little unsteady when walking
These problems are usually related to anesthesia. They should get better after 24 to 48 hours at home. If symptoms continue, talk with your child's healthcare provider.
After major surgery, your child will need to stay in the hospital. Some children may be in the ICU for one or more nights. From the ICU, your child will be moved to the regular pediatric unit. Your surgeon should be able to give you an estimate of the number of days your child will be in the hospital when you first discuss surgery.
After your surgeon has determined your child may be discharged, a nurse will discuss home care with you and give you written instructions. Before discharge, make sure you understand:
Any treatments you need to provide for your child at home. These include changing dressings on a wound or doing deep breathing exercises
Medicines you may need to give your child, such as antibiotics or pain medicines
Any activity limits your child may have, and for how long he or she must be watched
When your child may have a bath or shower, and if the incision needs to be covered, and how.
When your child may return to school or daycare, and whether he or she needs written permission from the healthcare provider to return. This is also a good time to get a note excusing him or her from physical education, if needed.
Symptoms of possible complications from your child's surgery, and who to report them to. Examples are a fever or problems with the wound healing.
When to return for a follow-up appointment
If your child will need to take medicines at home, a prescription will be given to you to fill at the local pharmacy of your choice.