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Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Guidelines

After a surgery, procedure, or treatment with anesthesia, the care team will take your child to the recovery room. This is also called the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, or PACU.

During anesthesia

Please do not leave the hospital. In the rare case of an emergency, we need you to be available when your child is under anesthesia. Please give your nurse a cell phone number or another way to contact you so we can reach you.

Female doctor smiles at male child patient in hospital room while mother looks over xrays

PACU staff will watch your child closely.

After anesthesia

St. Jude has 5 recovery rooms. Your nurse will tell you which one your child will be placed in and its location.

Your child’s nurse will invite no more than 2 caregivers into the recovery room. If siblings come with you, please keep them by your side and quiet out of respect for other patients.

During recovery

  • The care team will monitor your child’s vital signs often. Vital signs include temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level, breathing rate, and pain and nausea levels. Vital sign monitoring may vary based on the area of the body where your child’s surgery, procedure, or treatment was done.
  • It is normal to feel cold while recovering from anesthesia. The care team can provide warm blankets to help keep your child comfortable.
  • The care team will give your child medicine for pain and nausea if needed.
  • Please do not touch or try to wake your child unless told to do so. Each child wakes up differently — sometimes alert and happy, sometimes grumpy and drowsy.
  • The PACU nurse may give your child a light snack and drink. If you choose to bring a snack for your child, please do not bring hot foods or meals.
  • Your child’s IV or subcutaneous port will remain accessed until your child meets discharge criteria.
  • Recovery time will vary depending on your child’s condition. Your child will be discharged from the hospital or transferred to a nursing unit once the PACU staff decides they are ready.
  • No filming, photography, video call, or similar activity is allowed in the PACU.

On the day of your child’s surgery, procedure, or treatment, the care team will give you discharge instructions. These instructions will include numbers to call if you have concerns or an emergency.

Key Points

  • After a surgery or procedure with anesthesia, the care team will take your child to a recovery room. This is also called the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, or PACU.
  • Do not leave the hospital while your child is under anesthesia. Give your nurse a cell phone number to contact you in the rare case of an emergency.
  • PACU staff will watch your child closely during recovery from anesthesia. The nurse will invite up to 2 caregivers into the recovery room.
  • Recovery times will vary depending on your child's procedure or condition.
  • No photography or video of any kind is allowed in the PACU.


Reviewed: August 2022