Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Ambulatory Care Centre (ACC) is transforming the way children undergoing surgery receive care by allowing parents to accompany their child into the operating theatre and stay with them while the anaesthetic is being administered.

Two-year-old Amanuel Endale with his mother after surgery

The initiative is part of a pilot project launched earlier this month under the stewardship of the ACC Director, Dr Khalid Al Jalham. It resulted from international research studies which showed that the presence of a parent during the induction of anaesthesia significantly decreases separation anxiety and stress for the parent and their child. This anxiety can sometimes occur before surgery, particularly with younger children when they leave their parent to enter the operating theatre before the anaesthetic is administered.

Multidisciplinary teams from the ACC perioperative nursing, ENT, Paediatric Dentistry, and Anaesthesia Departments reviewed the traditional management of paediatric patients in the operating theatre and identified new ways of enhancing patient and parent experience, which include having a parent present at the start of anaesthesia.

Speaking on the move, Dr Al Jalham said that the preparation of any child for surgery is a cause of great stress for both the child and the parents. He said that at ACC, they believe that one of the most important ways by which they can prevent this stress is to allow one of the parents to be present at the start of anaesthesia.

Professor Marco Marcus, HMC Chairman of Anaesthesiology at ICU and Perioperative Medicine, explained that care teams meet with parents in advance to ensure they are fully prepared for their role in the theatre. 

We prepare parents by giving them a clear explanation of their role before the surgery takes place. They are given detailed information about the overall process when they visit the Pre-assessment Anesthesia Clinic (PAAC) weeks or days preceding the planned surgery. This enables them to clearly understand what to expect and prepares them to support their child as best they can.’

Dr Balakrishnan Ramachandran, Senior Consultant in Anaesthesia and Section Head of Anaesthesia for ACC, has been a key player in setting up the pilot.

Information about what both the child and the parent can expect is reinforced during a pre-operative phone call parents receive three to five days before the surgery. On the day of surgery, they are then well prepared for what will happen. One parent is allowed to go into the operating theatre with their child until the child is asleep. This minimises any anxiety and distress the child may have prior to their surgery and results in a much calmer hospital experience.’

He added that after surgery, parents are invited to join their child in the post-operative recovery area so they are present, by their child’s side, to reassure them when they wake up.

Earlier this month, two-year-old Amanuel Endale was one of the first children to undergo general anaesthetic in the presence of a parent. Bereket Endale, Amanuel’s father, accompanied his son into the operating theatre for his tonsillectomy (tonsil removal surgery). He said that the experience has been very positive, compared to what they went through with his older son who had the same procedure one year prior, when they were not allowed to enter the theatre.

For more information about the ACC initiative, visit the HMC website at hamad.qa