It can be scary for children to undergo surgery, especially if they’ve never had anesthesia before. Here are a few simple tips and tricks that can make pediatric anesthesia service easier on patients and their families.
– Remember to consider the child’s age when explaining their procedure. A 10-year-old may be able to grasp complex information that a 6-year-old cannot understand. Remind children of all ages that even though their parent won’t be in the room when the surgery is taking place, they’ll be in a nearby room, ready to see them as soon as they wake up. It’s a good idea for the child, parent, surgeon, and anesthesiologist to sit down and talk a few days before the procedure. This helps answer any lingering questions the child may have, and discourages them from attempting to research the procedure on their own.
– A model of the part of the body that will be operated on can be helpful for the child. Allowing them to touch and move the pieces that will be affected during the surgery can help to ease the child’s nerves.
Day of Surgery
– Offer distractions to the child while he or she is being prepared for the procedure. It’s helpful to use a game or a movie that can occupy both the parent and the child, as children are quick to pick up on the anxiety of their parent(s).
– Remind the child and parent that you have successfully performed the procedure many times, and that you’re good at your job. When a patient has never undergone anesthesia, it can be reassuring to hear that the person in charge knows what they’re doing.
– Remind the parent and the child that it is normal for them not to remember anything about the surgery, and it’s ok if they feel a little bit silly when they wake up- it’s normal. Although it seems like common sense, it’s important to remind the child that they will go to sleep just like they go to sleep at night, and the procedure will not begin until they are completely asleep. Remind them that they will feel no pain during the procedure, and you’ll be by their side controlling their “sleep medicine” to make sure they do not wake up until the procedure is complete.
– If a parent’s nerves are affecting the child, don’t be afraid to quietly pull the parent aside and reassure them one-on-one.
– Check in on both children and parents as soon as possible. Remind them both of any after-effects that may occur as a result of the anesthesia, and encourage them to call you directly if any questions or concerns arise.
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