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What to ask before pediatric surgery

The thought of your child undergoing any kind of medical procedure is overwhelming, but even more so when the word "surgery" is involved. To alleviate parents' worry, Pediatric Surgical Associates of Charlotte has some helpful advice about what every parent should know before they give their child that last reassuring kiss as they are wheeled back to the operating room.

In the nearly 50 years of practice, they have counseled many nervous Moms and Dads about how to prepare themselves and their children for surgery, and have answered every question under the sun. Pediatric Surgical Associates believes in patient education and advocacy. These tips are designed to help parents make the right decision for their family, because every child deserves our best. In the event of an emergency, always call 911.

So you need surgery:

  • What should I tell my child about the surgery?
    • You know your child best, but generally:
      • Ages 4 and under: comprehension will be minimal, comfort is key
      • Ages 5 to 9 can be tricky. Manage your child’s anxiety by giving them “broad stroke” information.
      • Children 10 and older will have full comprehension of what’s happening. Be honest and supportive.
    • Ask your surgeon for help explaining what’s happening and why.
  • Is it okay to ask the surgeon about his or her experience?
    • Absolutely. A good physician will understand your concern and should not be offended by any reasonable question about his or her education, qualifications, experience or board certification. (FYI, board-certification in surgery is not the same as board-certification in pediatric surgery.)

Second thoughts and misgivings:

  • It is natural to have second thoughts about sending your child into surgery, especially in crisis situations where the decision must be made quickly (in an emergency department, for example). However, if something does not feel right, you should trust your intuition and ask yourself:
    • Do you trust the opinion you’ve been given, are there other options available?
    • Always ask if the surgeon is the one your doctor would use for his or her own children? If the answer is unclear, do the research yourself.
    • Has the care you received feel personalized or institutionalized? Oftentimes, health systems will have preferences to how certain conditions are treated and which physicians they want treating them. However, these mandates may not be the best for your child. When in doubt, you have a right to ask for a second opinion.
    • Have you and your child been involved in the decision-making process?
    • Do you know what the surgery is for and the details of the procedure?
  • As a patient, you always have a choice, but you sometimes you have to ask for it.

For more information, visit Pediatric Surgical Associates at www.pedsurgical.com

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