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Discharge from the Hospital

When will my child be discharged?

If your child is having minor surgery, they may be discharged home a few hours after the procedure. Your child's healthcare providers will make sure that your child is fully awake. They will also be sure that your child's vital signs (such as heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, and blood pressure) are normal. Your child also needs to be able to take some liquids by mouth without vomiting.

Even after minor surgery, some children will stay in the hospital overnight and get medicines to help with pain or to prevent infection. One parent will be able to stay with your child overnight. In the morning, your surgeon will examine your child and determine if they may go home.

If your child is discharged within 24 hours after surgery, you may notice your child:

  • May sleep more than normal for the first day or 2 at home

  • May have some nausea and vomiting, or no appetite

  • May be a little unsteady when walking

These problems are often related to anesthesia. They should get better after 24 to 48 hours at home. If symptoms continue, talk with your child's healthcare provider.

After major surgery, your child will need to stay in the hospital. Some children may be in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 1 or more nights. From the ICU, your child will be moved to the regular pediatric unit. Your surgeon should be able to give you an estimate of the number of days your child will be in the hospital when you first discuss surgery.

After your surgeon has determined your child may be discharged, a nurse will discuss home care with you and give you written instructions. Before discharge, make sure you understand:

  • Any treatments you need to provide for your child at home. These include changing dressings on a wound or doing deep breathing exercises.

  • Medicines you may need to give your child, such as antibiotics or pain medicines

  • Any activity limits your child may have and for how long they must be watched

  • When your child may have a bath or shower, if the incision needs to be covered, and how

  • When your child may return to school or daycare and if they need written permission from the healthcare provider to return. This is also a good time to get a note excusing your child from physical education, if needed. Find out when they can go back to full activity.

  • Symptoms of possible complications from your child's surgery and who to report them to. Examples are a fever or problems with the wound healing.

  • When to return for a follow-up appointment

If your child will need to take medicines at home, a prescription will be given to you to fill at the local pharmacy of your choice.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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