Pediatric surgical process

The Pediatric Surgical Services Department, on the third floor of American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, contains six operating rooms, two procedures rooms and 30 pre-surgery beds. The surgical pavilion is a state-of-the-art facility with the latest in operating room design and technology.

The floor has a lake theme, complete with "swimming" fish and turtles along the floors. Artwork from children decorate the halls and rooms, and just off the elevator is a large glass mural of lake wildlife.

The entire process leading to surgery is intended to help alleviate some of the stress for patients. There are five general steps to the surgical process. Certain elements may change depending upon the child's condition or surgery required.

Step one: Pre-op and post-op unit

Here is where patients will prepare for surgery.

When patients arrive for a procedure they will be brought into the Pre-Op/Post-Op unit along with their family. In one of the 30 private rooms, nurses will check their weight, temperature, blood pressure, oxygen saturation level and may start an intravenous (IV) line. The nurse will also talk with patients and families about their surgery and what to expect.

Step two: Child Life playroom

While they wait for the surgery, patients and their siblings can go to the Child Life Playroom, where there are age-appropriate toys for diversion. Also in the playroom is a mock OR room where patients can gain mastery of the OR experience. A Child Life specialist will prepare your child and offer ways to cope with the experience.

Step three: Operating room/procedure room

Once the patient is ready for surgery, she or he will be moved to the Operating Room or Procedure Room. In most cases, for patients older than 6 months, one parent may accompany the child to the room where they can stay and comfort him or her at the start of anesthesia.

Step four: Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

After surgery, patients are brought to the PACU, where a nurse will be at the bedside to ensure their safety and comfort. Parents can also visit with their child at this time.

If the child needs to stay overnight, he or she will be moved to an inpatient room. If they are going home the same day, they will be moved to the Post-Op unit to recover.

Step five: Post-op

Once patients are awake, alert and comfortable, they return to the Pre- and Post-Operative unit, where they will further recover before returning home. Parents will receive discharge and home care instructions.