Managing your medication in hospital

It is important you are able to take your medication on time during a hospital stay. When someone with Parkinson's doesn't get their medication at the time prescribed for them, their symptoms become uncontrolled.

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This will depend on the hospital you are going to. Some hospitals allow patients to bring in their own medication when they are admitted, but only if the medication is in its original packaging – blister packs or pill boxes are not used in hospitals. If you have time, contact the hospital to find out about their self-administration policy.

If you are able to bring your own medications with you, find out about how this works practically on the ward by asking the following questions:

  • Where will my medication be stored on the ward?
  • Can I keep my medication with me?
  • If medicines need to be locked away on the ward, who will have the key
  • Who will update the drugs chart when I take my medication?

Make sure your healthcare team is aware you are self-administering your medication.

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On the ward, keep taking your medication on time. Your Parkinson’s nurse may be able to help you arrange this. If you don’t have your own Parkinson’s nurse, ask if there is one based at the hospital.

They may also be able to find out for you if the drugs you take are stocked in the hospital pharmacy.
This will alert pharmacy staff if they are not already in stock.

If you can’t bring your own medication into hospital and take it yourself, you need to make sure you still get medication on time.

Don’t be afraid to remind staff each time your tablets are due and stress to them that the timing of your
medication is important for the drugs to control your condition effectively.

The timings of your medication may be different from the usual ward drug rounds. One solution may be for the nurse to have a pill timer in their pocket that rings when it is time for your medication.

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Share your concerns with the senior nurse on duty and explain how important it is to get your medication on time. Be clear about the impact the missed dose had on your condition. Ask them to report the incident as a drug error and discuss how they will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

You may find it useful to keep notes on who you spoke to, when you spoke to them, what you discussed and what was agreed. After the meeting, follow up with the staff to make sure what was agreed has been done.

Never feel you are being difficult. Remember, failing to give you your drugs on time makes extra work for the ward staff.

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If you experience side effects from your medication, it is important ward staff know about them.


This is a side effect of Parkinson’s medication that can cause confusion and misunderstandings in hospital. ‘On/off’ usually happens to people who have had Parkinson’s for several years and their medication does not last as long as it used to. This causes their symptoms to return before the next dose is due.

If you have ‘on/offs’, make sure the staff understand that your ability to do things will change during the day. You may need more help when you are ‘off’ than you do when you are ‘on’.

Download this information

Going into hospital when you have Parkinson's (PDF, 4MB)

We know lots of people would rather have something in their hands to read rather than look at a screen, so you can order printed copies of our information by post, phone or email.


Medication is a key part of managing Parkinson’s symptoms and getting your medication at the right time is important.

The Parkinson’s UK Get It On Time campaign calls on all UK hospitals and care homes to ensure every person with Parkinson’s receives their medication on time, every time.

We caught up with Parkinson’s nurse Patsy Cotton who answers some of your questions on the topic. 

We want to make sure that you can take your own medication in hospital or that your healthcare professional makes sure you get it on time, every time.

Our range of Get It On Time resources can help. Order or download them now.

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This poster can be used and distributed to promote our Get It On Time campaign.

The campaign aims to ensure that people with Parkinson's going into hospital get their medication on time, every time.

Put the poster up at your local Parkinson's UK group, or get your Parkinson's nurse to put one up at their hospital.

Download and print a get it on time poster

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This clock poster can be used on hospital wards to prompt staff to make sure people with Parkinson's get their medication on time and can keep control of their symptoms.

It is laminated so it can be reused and has 2 clocks covering the full 24 hour period.

It is also available as a double-sided A5 flyer that can be kept in the Get It On Time washbag.

Order a copy of the clock on the Parkinson's UK shop.
You can also order the clock by post or phone.

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These stickers can be used and distributed to promote our Get It On Time campaign. Stick them on patient medical records to remind staff that people with Parkinson's need their medication on time every time.

Order stickers on our shop

You can also order our stickers by post or phone.

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The Get It On Time washbag helps people with Parkinson's to store their medication and inform hospital staff that they need to take it on time.

It includes tips on preparing for a hospital stay and a card to record your medication doses.

Order the washbag and replacement contents from our shop

You can also order replacement contents for your washbag:

You can also order these items by post or phone.

Get It On Time

We're campaigning to make sure that everyone in a hospital or care home gets their medication on time - every time.

Last updated February 2020. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]