Top 10 list for before child's surgery

July 21, 2009

A new list from the American Society of Anesthesiologists can educate parents and reduce children's anxiety prior to a procedure.

Now parents can better prepare children for surgery, when armed with a list of 10 tips from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). The list, according to ASA, is designed to educate parents and reduce children's anxiety prior to a surgical procedure.

The tips are from an educational campaign to inform patients and physicians on anesthesia and other health-related issues. They arrive at a time when more than 1 million U.S. children annually face the uncertainties of surgery, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

"Undergoing surgery can be a source of stress for a person of any age, but when the patient is a child, a whole new layer of sensitivity is added," said ASA President Roger A. Moore, MD, in a statement. "[P]arents also have a key role to play in the process. To this end, we urge parents to begin preparing their child as soon as a decision is made to perform surgery."

The tips are summarized in brief below. For a complete list online, refer to www.lifelinetomodernmedicine.com.

1. Inform yourself (as a parent). Discuss the surgery with your child's physician by asking key questions related to anesthesia, duration of surgery, visitation during surgery, etc.
2. Give your child age-appropriate input regarding surgery. Resources at the library or online can assist.
3) Focus on the bright side. Emphasize that the uncomfortableness of surgery is temporary, and that it will help his/her health in the long run.
4) Give notice on what to expect following surgery. Make sure children understand there may be some pain afterward, but it will lessen as time goes on.
5) Involve family and friends to provide moral support. Visits, phone calls, and cards and gifts can help brighten a child's day.
6) Use distractions on the day of surgery. Possibly offer some new toys to your child on the day of surgery.
7) Team up with the surgical team to help make the process as smooth as possible.
8) Don't forget to take care of you, the parent, by getting enough rest and relying on support of friends and family.
9) Remain in a peaceful state, as much as possible. Children will pick up on your emotional cues.
10) Be on alert post-surgery for any complications.