Pediatric Surgery Guide

If your child is having surgery at El Camino Health, you can be confident that your child’s safety, comfort and recovery are our highest priorities.

Understanding what to expect before, during and after your child’s surgery can help make the process go smoothly. Be sure to read through El Camino Health's admissions and registration information to download some of the registration paperwork and learn about some special conveniences.

A parent or legal guardian must sign the surgical consent form for patients under 18 years of age, as well as accompany them to the hospital. If you’re a guardian, make sure you bring guardianship papers with you on the day of surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

The night before surgery, your child shouldn’t have anything to eat or drink after midnight (or after the time your child’s anesthesiologist specifies). Your child’s stomach needs to be empty before he or she receives anesthesia. An empty stomach will help prevent nausea and vomiting.

Pack a pair of comfortable pajamas and slippers for your child to change into after the surgery, as well as a toothbrush and comb or brush. Personal items from home can be very reassuring when a child is in the hospital. Feel free to bring books, crayons, stuffed animals, a favorite toy or other comfort items — be sure to put your child’s name on any personal items. Laptop and tablet computers are welcome, and we offer free Wi-Fi access for visitors.

Make sure your child gets plenty of rest the days leading up to surgery. If your child is taking medications, ask the doctor if any changes are necessary.

If possible, write down information about your child’s health history, including:

  • Food and drug allergies.
  • Serious or chronic illnesses.
  • Previous surgeries or hospitalizations.
  • Immunization history.
  • Name and dosage of any medicine your child currently takes.
  • Any special needs your child has.

Use our medication form to write down medications, allergies and immunizations.

Day of Surgery

Your child will be admitted to the pediatric unit on the fourth floor of the main hospital building of our Mountain View campus or the short-stay admission unit on the second floor. Please arrive at least two hours before the surgery is scheduled, or at the time requested by the surgeon.

Before the surgery, one of our team members will ask you questions about your child’s medical and family history to create a complete health record. The anesthesiologist will talk to you about the types of anesthesia and what to expect after your child wakes up. The anesthesiologist will also address any questions or concerns, and may order preoperative medicine to help your child relax before the procedure.

While your child is in surgery, your family can wait in the surgical waiting room. The surgical hostess will keep you informed about your child’s progress during the surgery. The surgeon will come talk to you in the waiting room after surgery.

After Surgery

After surgery, your child will be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and kept under close observation until the anesthesia wears off. The nurses in PACU will manage your child’s pain and nausea. The surgical hostess will update you on your child’s condition and let you know when you can visit with him or her. Your child may be confused and sleepy for a while, and may seem upset or agitated. These effects usually wear off quickly.

The type of bed selected for your child will depend on his or her condition and age. If you or another visitor lowers the bedrails at any time, please raise and secure them before walking away from the bed — even for a moment. The rails are for your child’s safety.

The pediatric unit nurses will explain your child’s postoperative care, and will give your child medicine to manage any pain or nausea. At least one parent or responsible adult must remain with your child at all times. We’ll provide a cot for overnight stays, and a family room is available for visits when your child’s condition permits.


Parents and legal guardians may visit at any time. Please refer to our current Visitors Information for details about visiting.

If your child’s diet allows it, you may bring special food for your child. Please check with a doctor or nurse before bringing food. There are dining options on the Mountain View campus for parents and visitors to get meals or snacks while they’re visiting. We also have a gift shop with toys and books for children of all ages.

Parents and legal guardians can call the unit, at 650-940-7120, at any time to ask about their child’s condition. Friends and family members can call the main hospital number, at 650-940-7000, and ask to be connected a child’s room.

Hospital Discharge

Before your child leaves the hospital, a doctor or nurse will talk to you about how to take care of your child at home, as well as discuss follow-up care. We’ll also keep your child’s primary care doctor and other healthcare providers informed about your child’s surgery and progress.

Please remember to bring your child’s safety seat in your car the day your child is discharged from the hospital. Under California law, all children are required to be in a child safety seat or wear a seatbelt — depending on age and height — when being transported in a motor vehicle.

Thank you for trusting us with your child’s care.