What to Expect Every Step of the Way

Hearing your child needs surgery can be a stressful experience. To help manage that anxiety, read about what to expect throughout the whole process. From pre-admission to follow-up, the expert team at Arnold Palmer Hospital is here to support your child and family.

Pre-Registration and Pre-Admission Testing

When your child’s surgeon schedules surgery, the Pre-Admission Testing Center (PAT) is notified. The PAT will then set up an in-person appointment or conduct a phone interview 2 to 7 days prior to surgery to gather any necessary medical information. Pre-admission testing can include preliminary tests, procedural consents and health screenings by a physician or nurse.

For all in-person appointments, you can pre-register in the hospital with the business office, and they will escort you to the pre-admission testing area. Please be prepared with:

  • Answers to health history questions (including if your child has been seen by a specialist outside Arnold Palmer Hospital)
  • A copy of the summary of your child’s last visit
  • List of all physicians your child has seen
  • List of any known allergies
  • List of all medications that have been prescribed and are being taken
  • Information on whether your child has ever been diagnosed with drug-resistant organisms such as MRSA or VSE (if so, notify pre-admission nurses and physicians)
  • Legal court-appointed custody or guardianship documentation, if necessary

If you have questions about PAT, the process or what to bring, don’t hesitate to call us Monday–Friday, 8:00 am – 5: 30 pm at 321.843.8099.

Before Surgery

Prior to surgery, the most important thing you can do for your child is to follow feeding instructions exactly, or the procedure could be delayed or canceled. Eating and drinking before anesthesia can cause problems such as choking or vomiting during the procedure. That’s why no food, milk, drink, candy or gum is allowed after 11:00 pm the evening before your child’s procedure, with the exception of:

  • Clear Liquids: Until two hours before your scheduled arrival time, your child may drink only liquids you can see through, like Gatorade, Pedialyte®, apple juice or white grape juice. For example if you are scheduled to arrive at 6:00 am, then your child may have clear liquids until 4:00 am.
  • Breastfeeding: Babies may be breast fed until four hours before your scheduled arrival time.
  • Infant Formula: Healthy babies less than 6 months old on the day of surgery may have formula until four hours before your scheduled arrival time. Healthy babies 6 to 12 months old on the day of surgery may have formula until six hours before your arrival time. Do not add cereal or use formula that has cereal already added.
  • Medications: You may still give medicine with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water up to two hours before scheduled arrival time.

Children do better with surgery and anesthesia when they know what to expect. To help prepare your child, talk honestly with them, and give them information about the surgery and the hospital. In addition, prepare as a parent with our “What to Bring Checklist,” found on “Your Child’s Hospital Stay” page. If you would like to schedule a tour of our surgical areas, please contact our Child Life Specialist at 321.841.1203.

Staying Informed During Surgery with the EASE App

When a child is in surgery, one of the most stressful times a parent may experience is in the waiting room. The minutes that go by oftentimes feel like hours, as family members anxiously wait to hear about their child’s status from the surgery team. For many surgeries, families can now stay informed with the EASE app, which provides real-time, secure updates from the operating room to family members’ mobile phones. Many families have found the experience of waiting during surgery to be much less stressful with the EASE app. Ask your child’s doctor if the EASE app is available for your child’s surgery. Set-up of the app before the day of surgery is necessary. Visit the Orlando Health EASE App for Surgery page for more information.

The Day of Surgery

The big day has arrived! After checking in, you will be escorted to the surgery waiting area. In the preoperative area (pre-op), a registered nurse will be assigned to your child and responsible for your child’s care in pre-op. Here, the clinical team will review all of your child’s medical information again and do an assessment that checks your child’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. Once you and your child are admitted into the pre-op area, your child will need to change into a hospital gown and remove underwear, metal and jewelry (including jewelry in body piercings). If your child has long hair, side braids can keep the hair from getting tangled. 

(Note: All female patients who have begun menstrual periods must have a urine pregnancy test before anesthesia is given.)

Anesthesia for Children

Prior to surgery, you will speak with a pediatric anesthesiologist who specializes in providing anesthesia to infants, children and adolescents. The anesthesiologist will monitor your child before, during and after their surgical procedure. When your child is taken to surgery, you will be escorted to the waiting area, where a Guest Services representative can assist you with any needs you may have. After surgery, your child’s surgeon will come to the waiting room to update you, or you may be able to receive real-time updates during surgery with the EASE App.

What to Bring

Regardless of the child or condition, we require a parent or legal guardian be with the child on the day of surgery and request that this person does not leave during the child’s stay. Some things to remember:

  • Bring any forms you may need signed by the surgeon, any legal guardian documentation and your insurance cards.
  • If your child is scheduled to go home the same day as surgery, it may be helpful to bring a small stroller.
  • If your child is staying overnight, pack a suitcase with a change of clothing for yourself and your child.
  • You may want to bring a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, toy, DVD player, iPod®, or electronic game to help decrease anxiety before and after surgery.
  • If your child uses a bottle or sippy cup, bring an empty one for use after surgery.

Call If Delayed


Call the hospital at 321.841.1543 for any possible delay in arrival or for any the following reasons:
  • If your child becomes ill the day of surgery
  • If your child has had food or drink (except clear liquids) after 11:00 pm the night before surgery.
  • If your child drinks anything, including clear liquids, less than two hours before you are asked to be at the hospital.

After Surgery

After surgery, your child will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) to wake up from the anesthesia, and a new nurse will be assigned to your child. Wake-up times differ for each child and procedure. A good estimate is usually 45 minutes to an hour after speaking with your surgeon. We will make every effort to keep you updated and reunite you with your child as soon as possible. Please ask the Guest Services representative any questions you may have.

If your child is staying in the hospital following surgery, you will be able to accompany them to their room once a room has been assigned. However, if your child will be going home after surgery, you will receive instructions specific to caring for your child after their surgery before being discharged.