One of the many questions parents often ask after their child has been wheeled into the recovery room is: "When can she go home?" The answer varies, depending on what type of surgery your child has had. Here's what you need to know when your child is discharged.
Your surgeon will discuss your child's expected length of stay — including an estimated number of days — when you first meet during the preoperative visit, but if, after the surgery, you have questions about when your child is coming home, be sure to ask him.
If your child has had surgery that doesn't require her to stay overnight, she'll stay for a few hours following the procedure. Before they allow your child to go home, her healthcare team will make sure that:
Even after uncomplicated surgery, some children will remain in the hospital overnight for observation, and to receive medications to help with pain or to prevent infection. If your child must stay overnight, your surgeon will examine him in the morning and determine if he may be discharged.
How long your child stays in the hospital after more extensive surgery is determined by the nature of the surgery, as well as her health. Some surgeries require an intensive care stay so that your child's healthcare team can monitor her closely before she's moved to a regular inpatient unit. Once your child is in a regular unit, the team will monitor her and provide immediate medical attention if complications occur. When your child's condition has improved enough and she's comfortable enough to go home, she'll be discharged.
If your child has any underlying medical conditions, his recovery time may be longer.
You should know what to expect once your child's surgeon has cleared him to go home. If your child is discharged within 24 hours after surgery, you may notice he:
These problems — which are usually related to the surgery, anesthesia or pain medications — should improve after 24 to 48 hours at home. If the symptoms persist beyond that, talk to your child's doctor right away.
After the surgeon has determined your child may be discharged, a nurse will discuss home care with you and provide you with written instructions on how to care for your child. Before you take your child home, make sure you understand: