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pediatric preoperative fasting guidelines

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Well, this is something different for a change.

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I was tasked with coming up with a design to showcase the guidelines pediatric anesthesiologists set forth for their pediatric patients prior to their surgery or procedure. Often medically referred to as the NPO Guidelines, otherwise more colloquially know as the Pediatric Preoperative Fasting Guidelines, these guidelines outline the types of foods and liquids children can take, and the duration of time before surgery that makes it safe for them to eat and drink.

The goal is to balance the duration of time patients must have their stomachs empty for the sake of improving medical procedure safety and to still allow for proper nutrition and hydration prior to their procedure. Needless to say, there are guidelines specifically laid out by the government, various organizations (ASA, SPA) and hospitals (John’s Hopkins, Orange County, to name a few). Oddly, none of the guidelines are in any form strictly mandated (from a legal perspective). That being said, there are commonly agreed upon time durations for various types of liquids and foods that parents need to be aware of prior to their child’s surgery or procedure.

The aim of this handout is to provide a visually compelling and easily comprehensible way for parents to determine what and when to feed their child, pre-hospital arrival. We wanted to make this as simple as possible without an overt use of words and other language specific terms since we can receive caretakers from all walks of life. But going completely languageless is a touch difficult, and probably impractical, so we went with just trying to be minimalist and to use iconography to help represent the different guidelines.

The result is a two page document meant as handout to be given to parents as part of their take home package. The 1st page shows the various timelines associated with the different food categories, such as liquids, milk, and meals. Each timeline will feature a checkbox and time input field that the parents can use to fill in when they last fed their child that specific item. The hope is that this will actively engage the parents in knowing what their child ate or drank, and give a heads up to the medical staff about the corresponding times, just to double check.

The 2nd page features a table adding in examples of those food groups. The list could be endless considering the number of food items there are, so it was just narrowed down to some specifics most likely for a child.

There is also a 2nd version of the 1st page meant for the medical staff to use as reference for themselves. The small change with this version is that there will be a sample name already filled in and the checkboxes and time input fields will be removed since they wont be necessary.

Hopefully this can be used as a simple reference to successfully comply with the NPO guidelines for both medical staff and parents prior to the surgery or procedure.

You can download the PDF version of the handouts on the Pediatric Preoperative Fasting Guidelines page.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions, or if something like this would be useful for your own use. This project is licensed under CC-BY which simply means that you’re allowed to use it for your own purposes, and if needed, change anything on there to suit your needs. An attribution back to the Pediatric Preoperative Fasting Guidelines page is appreciated, if only for the purposes of linking back for the latest information should the guidelines change in the future or if we do something new and improved. But I’ll leave that part as a recommendation rather than a requirement.

If you need a ready-to-print version that instead uses your own institution or organization specific guidelines, feel free to contact me and I’m sure we can work something out.