Sedation for Children Undergoing Procedures

Southern Tasmania Area Health ServicesTasmanian Health Service - Southern Region

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Sedation for Children undergoing Procedures

Tasmanian Burns Unit - Patient Information Brochure

Your child has been booked to have a procedure performed under sedation at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH).

About sedation

Sedation is a medication given to children to make them feel sleepy, relaxed and sometimes unable to remember the procedure. The health care professional will decide which method of administration of sedation is most suitable for your child, i.e. orally, breathing in a gas or by injection.

Reasons for having sedation

Giving sedation to children undergoing procedures aims to reduce pain and anxiety, allowing procedures to be performed while limiting distress for you and your child.

Permission to give sedation

As the parent or caregiver you must give your consent for sedation. It is important you understand the reasons for sedation and the risks/ complications that can occur while using sedation. These risks will be discussed with you prior to obtaining your permission for the procedural sedation to occur.

What to do on the day of the procedure 

Please follow all advice that is given to you by health care professionals. You must not give your child any fluids or food for 2 hours prior to receiving sedation.  Depending on which type of sedation is used you may have to wait for a period of time, to allow the medication to take effect, before the procedure can begin.

Helping your child before the procedure

Ask the doctor/nurse to explain the procedure to you and to your child.

Talk to your child about some ways to cope, for example – looking at an interesting book, using their imagination to be in a nice place, blowing bubbles etc.

It helps your child if you do not show that you are upset or nervous too as your child will notice this.

Helping your child during the procedure 

Having a parent, or another adult who knows your child, stay with them is usually helpful.

The level of which you will be able to engage/ involve your child will depend on how deeply sedated your child becomes. Your child may need reminders of the coping methods you decided upon earlier. For example - "blow away the hurt." This sort of distraction is very helpful.

Depending on the age of the child it is not helpful to allow them to decide the exact moment the procedure is going to occur.

Helping your child after the procedure

Remain with your child. They may not remember where they are or why they are in hospital.

Focus on the good things your child did. For example "you did a great job blowing away the hurt."

For your child's safety, do not take your child home until staff tells you it is safe to do so. Expect to wait for an hour or more after the procedure.

Care of your child on your way home and for the next 24 hours

Sometimes the delayed effects of the medication may make your child a bit confused, sleepy or clumsy for the next 24 hours. You need to be extra careful in caring for and supervising your child for the next 24 hours.

If your child falls asleep in the car seat, watch them to make sure that they do not have any difficulty breathing. DO NOT leave your child alone in a car seat or alone in the car.

Let your child sleep. Children may go to sleep again after getting home from hospital and may sometimes sleep more because of the sedation medication.

Sometimes children may feel sick or vomit if they eat a big meal too soon after sedation. Give your child clear liquids such as diluted fruit juice, icy poles, jelly, clear soup etc. before giving solid food. Your child will be given clear liquids before going home.

To avoid accidents supervise your child's play and bath/shower for the next 8 hours after returning home.  DO NOT let your child swim or use play equipment (bikes, monkey bars etc.) for the next 24 hours.

Key points to remember:

  • Sedation is commonly given to children undergoing procedures.
  • You need to give your consent before your child receives sedation.
  • Make sure you understand the reasons for and the risks of sedation.
  • Be as open and honest as you can with your child about what is going to happen. It helps your child if you do not show that you are upset too.
  • No fluid or food is to be taken for 2 hours before the sedation medication is given.

When to call the doctor

Please call the Emergency Department at the Royal Hobart Hospital, telephone 6166 8308 if your child:

  • Vomits more than twice;
  • Has strange or unusual behaviour; or
  • If you have any questions.

Check on your child's sleeping pattern the night after getting home. If their sleeping seems heavy or strange then wake them up gently. If you cannot wake them or something seems very wrong in their appearance or breathing, call an ambulance and return to hospital immediately.

Date of Procedure:
Time of Procedure: am / pm (please circle)
No food or fluids from:
Please present to:
The name of the staff member who gave your child sedation is:
Additional Notes:



Please bring this brochure with you on the day of your child's procedure.

Contact Details

Burns Outpatient Clinic
12th Floor, Wellington Clinics
Argyle Street

Business Hours

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
Telephone:  6166 0098
Fax:  6234 9636

Wednesdays, Weekends, Public Holidays and after hours contact

Tasmanian Burns Unit
Surgical Specialities
5th Floor, A Block
Telephone:  6166 8566 (this service is also available 24hrs/day for advice)
Fax:  6234 9636

Printable PDF Brochure

The Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) is Tasmania's largest hospital and provides a number of state-wide services that include cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, burns, hyperbaric and diving medicine, neonatal and paediatric intensive care and high-risk obstetrics.

It is the major teaching and research hospital for the state and works closely with the University of Tasmania.

Many health care professions are taught within the RHH, and gaining skills in examining and interviewing patients is an important part of their education and training.

We ask for your cooperation and encourage you to participate in our teaching and research activities.

Your permission is required for participation.

The RHH encourages feedback from patients, relatives and visitors.  This feedback enables staff to gain a better understanding of the needs of patients and assists us in continuing to provide the best in patient care.  Contact the Manager, Consumer Liaison Service, telephone 1800 811 911.

RHH is a smoke-free site

This pamphlet is modified from the Royal Children's Hospital Sedation Manual, 2nd Edition 2008, with permission.

Date: August 2014