COVID-19 Updates

Dr. Clifton holds a baby patient before surgery.

Evidence has shown that children do better when their surgical team specializes in caring for kids. When you walk through our doors, you can take comfort knowing our entire staff, from pre-surgery nurses and technicians to pediatric anesthesiologists and surgeons, has been specially trained to care for your child. Not only that, we perform more pediatric surgeries on kids and teens than any other hospital in Georgia.* 

Our team understands how to keep kids and teens safe during surgery. Our physicians are leaders in research efforts to improve outcomes and help kids recover better after surgery. We work with specialists from many different areas to create guidelines for kids and teens who need surgery. These guidelines have helped us reduce complications, better manage post-surgery pain and get kids home sooner.

Where You Take Your Child for Surgery Matters

We are the first facility in Georgia with a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Verification.

We have earned Level 1 status from the American College of Surgeons for Children’s Surgery Verification—its highest designation. No other hospitals in Georgia have achieved this level. So when your child needs surgery, you can take comfort in knowing he is in a facility that meets the highest distinction.

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There are key differences in the size and shape of the airway that can make intubation (inserting a breathing tube before surgery) in children more difficult. It’s important to have a pediatric-trained anesthesiologist who knows how to safely provide sleep medicine for each patient. Keeping your child safe and comfortable during and after surgery takes a team that specializes in anesthesiology for kids and teens.

At Children’s, your child is guaranteed a pediatric-trained anesthesiologist. Your child will have a member of our anesthesia care team during the entire procedure.

Some facilities can’t guarantee a pediatric anesthesiologist for your child—we do.

While some hospitals may not be staffed to meet this need, at Children’s, every baby, child and teen receives care from a pediatric anesthesiologist who understands best practices for growing bodies.

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Anesthesiology is a specialty focused on the safe management of anxiety and/or pain before, during and after a medical procedure.

This can include:

  • Sedation that can help keep a patient calm and/or still during a procedure
  • Regional pain control that numbs an area of the body
  • General anesthesia that renders a patient unconscious and insensitive to pain during surgery

Physicians who specialize in anesthesiology are called anesthesiologists.

Pediatric anesthesiologists are physicians specializing in anesthesiology, but with a sole focus on the care of children from newborn to age 21. They choose to make pediatric care the core of their medical practice, and receive advanced training and experience in the unique nature of medical and surgical needs of children.

Pediatric anesthesiologists are responsible for the general anesthesia, sedation and pain management needs of infants and children. Pediatric anesthesiologists generally provide the following services:

  • Evaluating complex medical problems in infants and children when surgery is needed
  • Planning and providing care before, during and after surgery
  • Creating a nonthreatening environment for children in the operating room
  • Controlling pain, if needed, after surgery either with intravenous (IV) medicines or other anesthetic techniques
  • Providing anesthesia and sedation for many procedures outside of the operating room, such as MRI, CT scan and radiation therapy

In addition to the education and training all anesthesiologists receive, pediatric anesthesiologists complete at least one additional year of specialized training in the proper use of anesthesia in the care of infants and children. Pediatric anesthesiologists complete:

  • At least four years of medical school
  • At least three years of residency in anesthesiology
  • One to three years of fellowship training in pediatric anesthesiology
  • Certification from the American Board of Anesthesiologists, with the option to receive another board certification in pediatric anesthesiology

Modern anesthesia is safer than ever. Still, children need specialized care, precise dosing and close monitoring during and after surgery.

We will create a plan just for your child based on his weight, height, age, any existing medical conditions and type of surgery. A nurse will call you one or two days before surgery to let you know when your child should stop eating so that his stomach is empty during the procedure, what foods are allowed, and anything else you may need to know. One of our anesthesiologists will meet with you before surgery to make sure you and your child know what to expect, and we will be able to talk with you about any questions or concerns you may have.

FDA warns about prolonged anesthesia in children younger than 3 years old

On Dec. 14, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement about the possible effect of giving anesthesia to children younger than 3 years old repeatedly or for long periods of time. Recent studies suggest that a single, relatively short exposure to general anesthetic and sedation drugs in infants or toddlers is unlikely to have negative effects on behavior or learning. However, further research is needed to fully characterize how anesthesia early in life may affect a child’s brain development.

Anesthetics are necessary for infants and children who require surgery, or other painful or stressful procedures, especially when they face situations requiring surgery or procedures that should not be delayed. Your child’s physician can discuss with you the benefits, risks and timing of surgery or procedures requiring anesthetics. Healthcare professionals, along with you, should balance the benefits of appropriate anesthesia use in young children against the potential risks.

Read the full FDA statement

Our team has specialized experience in all kinds of surgery for children, and we work with other specialists across the Children’s system.

Our comprehensive pediatric surgical services include:

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is committed to your child’s safety. We also want to help make sure your child does not undergo unnecessary testing. Our team has identified the procedures that require COVID-19 testing before surgery.

Your children's doctor will determine whether a pre-surgery COVID-19 test is needed. Beginning Monday, June 14, 2021, patients who have been fully vaccinated for 14 days or more prior to their surgery will not have a pre-surgical COVID test on the day of surgery. Your child’s care team will verify vaccination status via the patient's COVID Vaccine Record Card or the GRITS database.

Testing may be required if your child is having:

  • A complex surgery that requires significant recovery. We want your child to have a good recovery after surgery. Having a virus like COVID-19 could make recovery hard, so we do not want to perform the surgery if your child tests positive.
  • A procedure in which air droplets are easily transferred. Some of these procedures may include:
    • Nasal/sinus procedures
    • Tonsillectomy
    • Adenoidectomy
    • Mastoidectomy
    • Frenulectomy
    • Tympanoplasty
    • Cochlear implant
    • Dental procedures
    • Bronchoscopy
    • Cleft lip or cleft palate procedures
    • Oral surgery
    • Upper GI procedures

 

If your child is asked to have pre-surgery COVID-19 testing

Most children do not need to come for a pre-anesthesia clinic visit. However, if your physician requests your child have an in-person, pre-anesthesia clinic visit, their COVID-19 screening will occur as part of the visit. If your child’s test is performed during their pre-anesthesia clinic visit, it is important to minimize your child’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 until the date of surgery. Keep your child at home and limit contact with other people as much as possible. 

If your child isn’t required to come for a pre-anesthesia clinic visit, the COVID-19 screening test will occur on the day of surgery. Arrive at the time instructed to allow time for the test. Beginning Monday, June 14, 2021, children who are fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to their procedure will not have a pre-surgical COVID test on the day of surgery. Your child’s care team will verify vaccination status via the patient's COVID Vaccine Record Card or the GRITS database.

Fill out your pre-anesthesia health history forms before surgery

Choose the link for the location where your child is having surgery:

How can I prepare my child or teen for having surgery?

Studies show that children cope better with medical procedures when they are well prepared ahead of time. Here are some ways we recommend preparing and talking to your child about his surgery.

Preparing for Your Child's Surgery

Can I tour the facility before surgery?

To help prepare your child for his procedure, the Child Life departments at Children’s at Egleston and Children’s at Scottish Rite offer pre-admission tours for those scheduled for medical procedures or surgeries. This tour is geared toward children over the age of 3.

To attend a pre-admission tour, contact:

  • Children’s at Egleston: Ashley McClain, CCLS at 404-785-6325
  • Children’s at Scottish Rite: Sarah Rodgers, CCLS at 404-785-4286

What should I bring if my child needs to stay overnight?

If you’re going to stay overnight, we recommend bringing:

  • Comfort items from home, such as favorite clothes, a special toy or a blanket
  • A pillow, pajamas or personal items for yourself if you plan to stay with your child (your child will feel more secure with a parent or family member close by)
  • Snacks from home if desired
  • Toiletries, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste

What to Expect

What should I bring the day of surgery?

You or your child’s legal guardian must come to the hospital with your child, in order to sign papers allowing us to do the surgery.

Before walking out the door to go to the hospital, check to make sure you have:

  • A list of questions for the doctor or nurse
  • Any paperwork your child’s doctor has given you
  • Your current insurance card
  • Your child’s regular medicines in their prescription bottles
  • Your child’s favorite blanket, stuffed animal, doll or book
  • A bottle or sippy cup if your child uses one
  • An extra pair of clothes for you and your child
    • If your child is having an orthopedic surgery on the upper (arm, wrist or shoulder) or lower (hips, leg, knee or foot) parts of his body, there may be special types of clothing that need to be brought to wear after surgery. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on what to wear after surgery.

We have four locations conveniently located around Atlanta. Click for directions to find your nearest location.

*Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) by hospitals in Georgia, ages 0-18 (2020)