Guidelines for Visiting in the PACU

Because of the important role that parents play in the recovery of their children following an illness or surgery, the Pediatric Surgery team and the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) nurses of Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital have instituted a visitation program where parents can sometimes be with their child as he/she awakens from surgery. The following information is designed to help you understand the routine and provide information for those who wish to visit your child in the PACU.

 What to Expect
When children are brought to the PACU from the Operating Room they are still waking up from the anesthesia, so they must be watched closely. Your child will have an IV (intravenous) line and they also may have tubes and/or drains depending upon their surgery. While in the PACU, they also may be connected to monitoring devices. You will receive a phone call in the Family Waiting Room, letting you know that your child has arrived in the PACU. It takes some time for the PACU nurse to complete her assessment and make your child as comfortable as possible. The PACU nurse will notify either the pediatric nurse or the Child Life Specialist to bring you in to see your child. Please do not enter the PACU unless escorted. Because space is limited, we ask that only one parent visit.

Visiting Guidelines
Your presence can be reassuring and comforting. You may talk to your child and hold his/her hand, and we welcome the emotional support you may lend at this time. Since moving about in the PACU can be disruptive and may interfere with the staff's activities, we ask that you remain at your child's bedside while visiting. Going in and out of the PACU is discouraged.

Please note the following important information when you visit your child in the PACU:

  • The PACU is a large, open area with all patients easily visible. Your child will be in the pediatric section of the PACU.
  • We must honor each patient's right to privacy and confidentiality. We ask that you do not talk to other patients or ask about their child's condition.
  • Before your child can leave the PACU they must have:
  • Normal body temperature
  • Minimal symptoms of nausea
  • Stable vital signs, and
  • Post operative pain under control.
  • The average length of stay in the PACU can be one to two hours. Each patient's response time for waking up will depend on the type and amount of anesthesia given, as well as the length and type of surgery.
  • You may be asked to leave the PACU in the event of a patient emergency. If this should happen please return to the Family Waiting Area.

And finally, we appreciate the difficulty that some parents have seeing their children during this phase of their illness or surgery. Please do not feel that you must stay in the PACU, or that you must visit. Your child will receive the best possible care and you will receive updates on your child's condition throughout the surgical and recovery process.

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