Day Surgery

Day surgery information

  • On the day of surgery

    Time of arrival

    Arriving at Surgery Reception J on time is important in order for all the health professionals to see your child. If you are running late or if you are not able to come to the hospital, please ring the Day Surgery nurse's station on 9345 6570 or Surgery Reception J on 9345 5385.

    What to bring with you

    • Medicare card
    • Concession or health care care (if applicable)
    • Private health insurance details (if applicable)
    • Maternal and child health book
    • Details about your GP, name, address and contact number
    • Medical equipment or disability aids
    • All current medications especially if your child is epileptic or asthmatic
    • Loose fitting pyjamas, short sleeve nightie or T-shirt and boxer shorts (no tracksuit)
    • Change of clothes and slippers
    • Your child's favourite toys, books or games
    • One bottle of formula/milk (if appropriate)
    • Pram/pusher
    • No makeup, nail polish or jewellery


    We ask that parents/caregivers remain with their child at all times. Where possible, alternative arrangements should be made for your other children.

    What to expect

    On arrival to Surgery Reception J, an admission clerk will check your child in via the computer system.

    Prior to your child's surgery, a nurse will admit your child and inform you of what to expect for the day. Your child will also be seen by an anaesthetist and surgeon.

    Your child will be admitted as they appear in order on the theatre list. This is usually organised in age order, starting with the youngest first. There are 14 theatres operating at any one time, therefore not all children are waiting on the one doctor.

    Your child's admission time is not the time your child goes to theatre. Waiting time may be 1 to 6 hours before your child is called for theatre. On some occasions, due to unexpected emergencies this waiting time can be longer or your child's surgery may be cancelled for that day. If it is anticipated that you may be waiting for a period of time you may be given permission to leave Surgery Reception J and go for a walk within the hospital.

    Following your child's procedure, we expect that they will be able to go home 30min - 1.5hours. It may be required that your child stay longer depending on their type of procedure or their recovery.

    Prior to discharge you will be given verbal and written instructions detailing your child's care at home. You may also be contacted the day after your child's surgery regarding their progress.


    For anaesthetic safety your child must not have anything to eat (includes chewing gum) or drink after the specified time, otherwise the procedure may be cancelled or delayed. Medicines that are due should be given with their last drink. Please fast as arranged.

    The following guidelines are issued by the Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management of The Royal Children's Hospital concerning fasting for all patient's, whether surgical or medical, undergoing a general anaesthetic or sedation.

    Morning surgery

    Your child must fast from solids from 0230. This includes NO milk, food, lollies or chewing gum.

    Children less than 6 months of age: please plan for the last breast feed to finish no later than 0530, and for a formula feed to finish no later than 0430.

    Clear fluids such as water, cordial or clear apple juice can be given up until 0730. Clear fluids are those fluids which, when held to the light, are transparent. It is a good idea to wake your child in time to have fluids on the day of surgery.

    Afternoon surgery

    Your child must fast from solids from 0730. This includes NO milk, food, lollies or chewing gum.

    Children less than 6 months of age: please plan for the last breast feed to finish no later than 1030, and for a formula feed to finish no later than 0930.

    Clear fluids such as water, cordial or clear apple juice can be given up until 1230. Clear fluids are those fluids which, when held to the light, are transparent. It is a good idea to wake your child in time to have a light breakfast on the day of surgery.

    Emergency surgery

    Patients should be fasted as advised until further instructions from nursing staff or the in charge anaesthetist. 

    Travel arrangements

    The hospital recommends that public transport not be used following a general anaesthetic as dizzy spells or vomiting may occur. Families who live outside the metropolitan area are advised to stay in Melbourne the previous night if surgery is in the morning and the night following surgery if the surgery is in the afternoon. 


    We suggest you explain to your child what will happen in hospital in simple language and stress the following:

    • They will have a short sleep for their procedure
    • They will stay only a short time in hospital
    • You will remain close by while they are in the Day of Surgery Centre and that you will take them home.

    Books about "hospitals" would be useful in preparing your child. A video clip by Be Positive (B+) called A child’s guide: Day Surgery’ is available to help your child understand what will happen throughout the day of their surgery

    Pre-Admission Resource Centre

    The Pre-Admission Resource Centre (PARC) is available at RCH is to assist children and their families in being adequately prepared for elective surgery. We encourage you and your child to contact PARC if you have questions regarding your child's surgery or would like to visit the hospital prior to admission. The purpose of these visits is to prepare you and your child for your day stay. Please contact the Pre-Admission Resource Centre on 9345 4115 to arrange a pre-admission visit.

    Car parking

    See the Car Parking page in the Guide to RCH for parking information.

    Parent's retreat

    While your child is having their operation you will be asked to wait in the parent’s retreat, adjacent to Surgery Reception J, where tea and coffee is available. Food and drinks may only be consumed in the parents retreat.

    You may also leave the parents retreat and visit the Main Street, located on the ground floor, for food and shopping outlets. The Family Hub, located on the ground floor (behind the Degani cafe), is also available where you can relax, use free internet access, and read a magazine.

    Please ensure that you can be contacted by mobile phone at all times when your child is in the operating theatre. For safety reasons hot drinks are not permitted in the recovery area and where children are playing.


    The hospital does not accept responsibility for loss of items. Please keep your essential valuables with you at all times. There is a store room available to store large items such as prams and wheelchairs.

    Mobile phones

    Mobile phones will be required to be switched off when you enter the pre-operative and recovery room areas as they can interfere with electronic medical equipment.


    Please do not capture images of any RCH staff or other children or family members unless they give permission. 

    Infection Control

    Hospitals are full of sick patients, and there is a high risk of infection for other patients, parents and visitors. It is vital that everyone works hard to prevent the spread of germs. The best way to do this is by washing your hands regularly and using the hand sanitiser gel provided throughout the ward. Please ensure you gel your hands before entering and leaving a patient area and ensure you wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food and attending to personal and patient hygiene.

    Children who have an infectious illness will have special signs outside their area instructing staff that they need to wear gowns and/or masks. Please ask your child’s nurse for help if you have any questions.

    Patient Identification

    When we admit your child, they will have an identification (ID) band attached around their wrist or ankle. The information on the band includes the patient’s name, date of birth, their unique RCH record number (or UR number), and a barcode. A red ID band indicates your child needs an additional alert regarding allergies. Many different nursing, medical and allied health staff will care for your child throughout their stay and will routinely scan your child’s ID band to confirm the patient’s information.

    Your child will not be able to receive treatment while in hospital if they do not have an ID band

    It is essential to wear an ID band at all times, so please speak with nursing staff if your child does not have one.

    Food for patients

    Post-operative food will be supplied for your child such as a sandwich, jelly and juice. You are welcome to bring in food from home for your child to eat after their surgery. Staff will not be involved in the preparation, handling and provision of food brought in from home or external sources. Please let nursing staff know if your child has any food allergies. 

    Food for families

    Although the RCH does not supply food or beverages for parents, siblings or visitors, you will find tea and coffee making supplies in the parent's retreat and Day Surgery kitchenette. 

    Breastfeeding, formula, expressed breast milk and supplies

    The RCH actively supports and promotes breastfeeding. Your supply of breastmilk can be particularly vulnerable when your baby is sick, so our staff will work with you to maintain your supply and optimise breastfeeding while your child is in hospital. Day Surgery has a hospital grade expressing pump for mothers to use, please ask your nurse if you require this and any assistance using the breast pump. 

    Day Surgery has the capacity to store expressed breast milk (EBM) and/or formula. There is a bottle warmer in the Day Surgery kitchenette as well as expressing kits, feeding teats and empty green-capped bottles for storing EBM. Please return all feeding bottles and teats to the bins provided after use. They will be collected each day and returned to the central formula room for cleaning and sanitising. Please do not take the bottles home. Water in the bottle warmer needs to be discarded after every use to avoid cross-contamination between feeds.

    On discharge

    We recommend a light snack or drink in the initial period after the anaesthetic because of the risk of vomiting. Verbal and written instructions will be given regarding care at home. A follow-up appointment will be arranged. We may contact you the day after the procedure regarding your child's progress. Your feedback at this time will also give us an opportunity to discuss ways to improve our services.