• Article
  • July 13, 2014

Make Surgery Less Scary With a Video for Patients and Families

A new video helps kids and their families prepare for surgery.

Preparing kids for what to expect during surgery and alleviating their fears at the same time is a challenge the perioperative nurses at Nemours/ Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., wanted to tackle. The Surgical Services Department at Nemours performs about 50 surgeries a day, averaging nearly 1,000 surgeries per month. While every patient experience is different, there’s a common thread connecting all families: the desire to understand what to expect before, during and after their child’s procedure.

Previously, the team used picture books and offered tours of surgery facilities to families, but both of these required appointments and the need for families to come to the hospital. “We needed to provide families with information they could review on their own time and in the comfort of their own home,” says Meg Hartman, surgical nurse liaison. To do this, the team first created a guidebook called Your Child’s Surgery, available in printed and online forms and in English and Spanish. It proved to be a great resource for parents, but the team still needed a teaching tool for children—one that would speak directly to their worries and fears, while entertaining them at the same time. Research shows children who are prepared for medical procedures experience less fear and anxiety. Utilizing a medium that kids are familiar with, and thanks to donors through the Nemours Fund for Children’s Health, the kids’ video, “The Top 10 Things Kids Need to Know About Surgery” was born.

Featuring a child narrator, the video takes viewers on a patient’s journey on surgery day and addresses kids’ most frequently asked questions in a straightforward, simple and entertaining way. Perioperative and child life staff members volunteered their time to create the video, which features actual Nemours staff, families and patients. “We put family-centered care at the heart of everything we do,” says Robert Redlinger, RN, senior director, perioperative services. “And with the creation of this video, we wanted to ease worries and take away some of that fear of the unknown for kids as well as their parents or caregivers.”

When a family comes in for the pre-admission history and physical, surgical services staff share the video and its link with them. This allows the family to view it at home prior to the day of surgery. If a patient is scheduled to have his or her history and physical on the day of surgery, screening nurses share information about how to access the video when they call the family. “We recently had a family tell us it not only alleviated anxiety for them,” Hartman says, “but their child enjoyed the video so much, she wanted to watch it over and over again—she was excited to be there once the day of surgery finally arrived.

—Nancy R. D’Argenio, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital Children

Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.