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, that vital signs (for example, heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, and blood pressure) are normal, and that he or she can take some liquids by mouth without vomiting.
Even after minor surgery, some children will remain in the hospital overnight for observation, and to receive medications 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 be discharged.
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, and should improve after 24 to 48 hours at home. If symptoms persist, consult your child's doctor.
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 transferred 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 registered nurse will need to discuss home care with you as well as provide you with written instructions. Before discharge, make sure you understand:
Any treatments you need to provide for your child at home, such as changing dressings on a wound or doing deep breathing exercises
Medications you may need to give your child, such as antibiotics or pain medications
Any activity restrictions your child may have, and for how long he or she must be observed
When your child may have a bath or shower
When your child may return to school or day care, and whether he or she needs written permission from the doctor to return. This is also a good time to get a note excusing him or her from physical education.
Signs and symptoms of possible complications from your child's particular kind of surgery, and who to report them to
When to return for a follow-up appointment
If your child will need to take medications at home, a prescription will be provided for you to fill at the local pharmacy of your choice.