Patient Resources

Preparing for Your Child's Surgery

Tips to Prepare for Your Child's Surgery

Your Child's Surgery

Thank you for choosing Cincinnati Children's for your child's surgery. We perform procedures that require anesthesia at our Burnet Campus and Liberty Campus. We understand that this can be a frightening time for you and your child. We look forward to working closely with you to make your visit as safe, convenient and comfortable as possible. We can answer some of the questions you might have about your child’s procedure.

> Review the Same Day Surgery Prep Book to help your child prepare for surgery (PDF).

You should:

  • Schedule a physical exam with your child’s primary care physician no more than 30 days before the procedure.
  • Have your child’s primary care physician complete and sign the medical history and physical exam form.
  • Let Surgery Registration know if you or your child has special communication needs. Call the Burnet Campus at 513-636-8897 or the Liberty Campus at 513-803-9820.
  • Receive authorization from your insurance company if required by your insurance provider.
  • Review eating and drinking rules.
  • Review information about anesthesia.
  • Prepare for coming home by having clear liquids and acetaminophen available.

A nurse will attempt to call you one or two days before the procedure to:

  • Confirm the time and location of the surgery
  • Ask about your child’s health, medications and exposure to other children that have been sick
  • Address your questions and concerns

If surgery is being performed at our Burnet Campus, check in at Surgery Registration, Location B, third floor.

If surgery is being performed at our Liberty Campus, check in at the Same Day Surgery registration desk, entrance B, second floor.  

 We’ll ask to see:

  • Your insurance or medical card and your child’s social security number
  • Completed medical history and physical exam form
  • Proof of guardianship (for court-appointed guardians)
  • A list of medications your child is taking, including prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medications

Patients age 18 or older who have the ability to make an informed decision have the right to make their own medical treatment decisions. You also have the right to draft an advance directive that gives instructions for healthcare in case you are no longer able to participate in treatment decisions. For more information or copies of advance directive forms:

  • Admitting, 513-636-4207
  • Social Services, 513-636-4711
  • Talk to your nurse or doctor

If you or your doctor feels your child is not able to understand the risks and benefits of medical treatment and cannot make informed medical decisions, you must arrange for a legal guardian to be appointed for that purpose. To obtain legal guardianship for an adult child, parents must apply to the probate court in the county where the child lives. For more information, contact a lawyer or the probate court.

If you have a concern about the quality of care or a safety issue, please speak to your child’s nurse or doctor, or to the unit manager. Here are steps you can take if you have a concern or grievance that cannot be immediately addressed by your care team:

Contact Family Relations to speak to a patient advocate

Contact the Ohio Department of Health

Contact The Joint Commission, the organization that accredits hospitals nationwide.

Medicare beneficiaries have the right to request a review of their grievances by Ohio’s Quality Improvement Organization. Medicare patients may make this request through Family Relations or by calling the Ohio Medicare Beneficiary helpline at 1-855-408-8557 or

Read more about Your Rights and Responsibilities.

Tips to Prepare Your Child

Children are usually less frightened when they know what to expect. You may want to prepare your child by talking about the hospital. Give honest, age-appropriate information that your child can understand. Depending on your child’s age, it may be helpful to play hospital or doctor, read books about hospitals, or keep a journal or scrapbook.

Our Child Life specialists can help your child with special needs prepare.

Bring familiar objects that will comfort your baby:

  • Favorite blanket, toy or pacifier
  • Familiar bottle or cup for after the procedure
  • Allow choices, such as which stuffed animal to bring or what to wear.
  • To help put your child at ease, allow staff to look at your ears or listen to a stuffed animal's heart before they examine your child.
  • Help our staff explain what they will do before they touch your child.
  • Talk to your child about the hospital.
  • Play is how preschoolers learn. Playing hospital or doctor is very helpful.
  • Be honest. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt.
  • Give simple explanations of things your child might see. Some suggestions include:
    • Stretcher: “Bed with wheels”
    • Blood pressure cuff: “Arm hug”
    • Anesthesia: “Sleepy air”
    • Induction room: “Sleepy air room”
    • Recovery room: “Wake-up room”
  • Prepare your child about a week ahead of the visit.
  • Allow your child the opportunity to ask questions and talk about concerns.
  • Be honest. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt.
  • Prepare your child for things that might be seen after the procedure, such as stitches or bandages, or IV tubes.
  • Give simple explanations of things your child might see. Some suggestions include:
    • Stretcher: “Bed with wheels”
    • Blood pressure cuff: “Arm hug”
    • Anesthesia: “Sleepy air”
    • Induction room: “Sleepy air room”
    • Recovery room: “Wake-up room”
  • Teenagers are learning independence and decision-making.
  • Talk about what will be done and why. Encourage your teen to ask questions and participate in decision-making.
  • Be honest. For example, don’t say that nothing will hurt or make promises you can’t keep. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you will find out.
  • Encourage your teen to ask the doctor or nurse questions.
  • Respect your teen's need for privacy.

Guide to Procedure

Download the guide to surgery to learn more about preparing for surgery at Cincinnati Children's.

For detailed information, download our booklet, For Patients and Families: A Procedure Guide