Countdown to Surgery: Checklists for Parents

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Preparing for your child's surgery: One month before surgery

Below are some helpful tips to prepare for your child’s surgery. Children’s National Health System recommends reviewing this checklist as soon as your child’s surgery is scheduled.
  • Have I scheduled a physical exam with my child’s primary care physician within 30 days before the operation?
  • Has my primary care physician completed and signed the medical history and physical examination form?
  • Have I notified Language Services if my child, family, or I have special communication needs, such as hearing impairment,visual difficulties, foreign language translation or other need?
      Language Services: (202) 476-5444
  • Have I received authorization from my insurance company for the operation, if required by my insurance contract?
  • Have I reviewed the Pre-Surgical Tour online? Have I considered bringing my child to Children’s Hospital on a Sunday afternoon for the pre-surgical tour?
      For more information, call (202) 476-3812
  • Have I discussed my child’s medical history with the surgeon?
    • The reason for the surgery
    • Medications my child is taking
    • Allergies to medicine, food, or latex
    • Reactions to anesthesia or to a blood transfusion
    • History of nausea after anesthesia or medication
    • Immunization record
    • Previous illnesses or operations
    • Previous hospital stays (admissions), tests, or treatments
    • Anything that might put my child at risk during the hospital visit
  • Have I asked my surgeon about any special equipment I may need at home after surgery?
  • Have I arranged for someone to care for my other children while I am at the hospital?
  • For families coming from out of town: have I called Concierge Services at (202) 476-6160 for help making travel and lodging plans?
  • Have I considered contacting the surgical Child Life Specialist at 202-476-5665? 

One day before surgery

  • Does my child have a cold, a fever, a rash, or fever blister?
    If so, please call the surgeon immediately. The operation may be postponed.
  • Have I talked with my child about the operation?
  • Have I reviewed the information about the surgery, anesthesia, and “Tips for Preparing Your Child” online? 
  • Has my child taken a thorough bath or shower and removed all make-up, nail polish, piercings, other jewelry, and contact lenses? 
  • For post-surgical care at home: do I have plenty of clear drinks, such as water, sugar water,
    Gatorade, Jell-O, apple juice, pulp-free juices, breast milk, Pedialyte, popsicles? 
  • Do I have a supply of acetaminophen at home? 
  • Have I planned quiet games and activities for my child for after the surgery? 
  • Have I made arrangements for transportation to and from Children’s National? Do I have directions?
  • Have I made arrangements to be with my child or have another adult present while my child recovers at home? 
  • Have I arranged for someone to care for my other children while I am at the hospital? 
  • If I need to cancel my child’s surgery, have I contacted the surgical coordinator? Phone: 202-476-3370 
  • Do I have all of our insurance information ready to bring with me to the hospital? 
  • I was called by Children’s National and was unavailable; did I check my voicemail and return the call to 202-476-3370? 
  • Review eating and drinking guidelines

What to bring on the day of surgery

Please make sure you bring the following information to check in and register:

  • Picture identification card (for parents and patients over 18)
  • Insurance card for the patient
  • Statement of non-availability, if covered by TriCare
  • Referral/authorization, if covered by an HMO
  • Proof of guardianship (foster parent papers, court orders) if you are not the parents of the patient.
  • The “Consent to Surgery” form that your child’s surgeon gave you
  • The original medical history and physical (H&P) exam form completed by your primary care physician
  • Any outside x-ray or other imaging films and/or lab results

Other items to bring for the comfort of you and your child:

  • Comfortable clothing and a change of clothes
  • Your child’s medications; parent/caregiver medications
  • Containers for glasses, contact lenses, or any assistive devices such as hearing aids
  • Your child’s favorite toy, blanket, or comfort item
  • Special bottle, nipple, pacifier, or sipper cup
  • Something to occupy your time while you’re waiting such as a cell phone and charger, magazines, knitting, or your laptop computer.A free wireless network called “Bear Air” is available to our guests. 

Do NOT bring:

  • Valuables, such as jewelry
  • Food or drink into the Surgery Center
  • Siblings and other relatives or friends

Due to space constraints, we must limit the number of people coming to the hospital to two parents/guardians and the patient. If your child will be staying at the hospital after the surgery, the nursing team will advise you when other guests are permitted. 

If eating and drinking guidelines are not followed, your child’s surgery will be delayed or cancelled for your child’s safety. 

Having Surgery

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View our guide to prepare for your child's surgery.

Read more