Preparing for hospital

Planning for your hospital trip, if possible, will give you a chance to make the necessary arrangements at home and work, and prepare the medication you need.

Preparing for a hospital admission

There are 2 ways of being admitted into hospital – through a planned (or ‘booked’) admission or as an emergency.

Whether or not you go to hospital for something Parkinson’s-related, your condition should be an important consideration for both your nursing care and medical treatments you receive.

If your admission is planned, you may have some time to prepare for your stay in hospital. But it’s also worth thinking about what you may need if you are admitted in an emergency.

Keep a medication record

A medication record lists the medication you are taking and contact details for your healthcare team. This should include:

  • all the medication you are currently taking (not just for Parkinson’s), including the dosage – you can use your repeat prescription from your GP as a reference
  • the brand and generic names for each drug – levodopa such as co-beneldopa (Madopar), for example
  • what time you take each medication and if you have any ‘wearing off’ symptoms
  • any special requirements, such as needing to take a drug with food or water
  • details of any drugs (including drugs for your Parkinson’s) you have taken before that gave you serious side effects
  • the contact details of your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse
  • other things your medical team should be aware of, for example if you ever accidentally take more medication than you are prescribed, or regularly miss doses
  • any problems you experience if you don’t get your medication on time, for example difficulty swallowing or increased risk of falling

It is a good idea to keep this record with you all the time and let other people know where you keep it.

You could also leave copies with members of your family or carers.

This could help if you are unable to communicate in an emergency as they can give the healthcare professionals the record on your behalf.

Make sure you keep your medication record as up-to-date as possible.

You may also want to order a medication card from us, which is a plastic card that you can keep in your purse or wallet in case of emergencies or when having difficulties with movement or communication. This is small enough to keep in your wallet or purse and allows you to record drug names, times and doses. 

Tell your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse

If your admission is planned, it’s a good idea to tell your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse in advance.

You could:

  • ask them to provide details of your medication regime to the healthcare team who will be looking after you in hospital
  • ask your Parkinson’s nurse to talk to the ward staff about your medication needs and the importance of getting your medication on time

Make sure people know you have Parkinson’s

The bottle in the fridge scheme

This is a free scheme designed to help alert emergency services to your condition if they need to enter your property in an emergency situation.

You record basic medical details and emergency contact numbers on a standard form and keep it in the fridge. You then put a green sticker on your fridge door, and another on the inside of your front door, so emergency services know you are part of the scheme.

Speak to your pharmacist or GP about getting a kit.

MedicAlert

A MedicAlert bracelet or pendant is a piece of jewellery that provides contact details and medical information, including what medications you are taking. It can be helpful if you are not able to communicate in an emergency.

Parkinson’s UK alert card

You may want to order a Parkinson's UK alert card, which is a plastic alert card that you can keep in your purse or wallet in case of emergencies.

Prepare extra supplies of your medication

It can be a good idea to store extra supplies of your medication. If you do keep spare sets, let other people know where they are in case you need to use them.

Your medication should be kept in its original packaging – you will not be able to use your medication in hospital without this, even in an emergency.

Check that the dosage written on the labels matches what you are actually taking – this will be helpful if your hospital records are out of date.

You should have at least 24 hours’ supply to make sure you don’t miss any doses. Make sure you keep a copy of our medication card with the supply too and rotate the medication to ensure they are kept in date.

Organise your home and work life

If you’re going into hospital and live alone, it’s a good idea to think about any arrangements you need to make – do you need to cancel milk or newspaper deliveries, for example?

You may also need to arrange for a pet to be looked after. Your local vet may be able to recommend local pet sitters, catteries or kennels. If you are over 60, the Cinnamon Trust may be able to help arrange dog walking or pet fostering.

If you will be staying in hospital for any length of time, you may wish to tell your friends and trusted neighbours where you will be.

You may find it useful to put items like the TV remote control, your phone, books and magazines on a table next to a chair or bed where you may be spending a lot of time when you return home. Stock up on easy-to-prepare food and essential household items.

If you work, you may need to take time off for a procedure or recovery afterwards. Talk to your employer about your needs before you go into hospital.

When you do return to work, you may feel more tired than usual. Your employer may be able to make some reasonable adjustments until you are fully recovered, such as flexible working hours or letting you take more frequent breaks during the day.

You should also discuss a phased return to work if that’s likely to be necessary.

Telling the hospital you have Parkinson’s

Pre-admission assessment

If your admission is planned, the hospital may invite you to a pre-admission assessment.

This is an appointment with a doctor or nurse. It is an opportunity for you to discuss your health, medical history and circumstances at home.

You will be asked to bring in an up-to-date list of the medications you are taking.

You should use the appointment to tell the healthcare professional you have Parkinson’s and what your specific needs are because of the condition.

Talk to the healthcare professional about what medication you take and the importance of getting it on time.

During the appointment, you will be told about what will happen when you are admitted to hospital, and where to report on the day.

If you are having surgery or tests, you may be advised not to eat or drink anything before your admission. You will also be routinely screened for your risk of the MRSA infection and hospital-acquired blood clots.

If the hospital doesn’t have a pre-admission assessment process, you can discuss your needs when you are admitted.

You may also like to read our information for ward staff on caring for a patient with Parkinson’s. You may find it helpful to take this with you to your pre-admission appointment or when you are first admitted to hospital.

Apomorphine

If you have an apomorphine pump, you should ask if a staff member on the ward knows how to administer it before you are admitted.

A Parkinson’s nurse can discuss with the ward staff how to control the pump if they have no previous experience of this.

They can also speak to the APO-go helpline for more advice (0844 880 1327).

Depending on hospital policy, your carer may be able to continue managing this treatment.

Duodopa

You should also make it clear if you are taking duodopa – a type of levodopa that is pumped continuously through a tube, which is surgically inserted in the intestine.

As with apomorphine, a Parkinson’s nurse can discuss with the ward staff how to manage your pump if they have no previous experience of this.

Depending on hospital policy, your carer may be able to continue managing this treatment.

Deep brain stimulation

It is important to make staff aware if you have had deep brain stimulation surgery.

MRI scans can only be used under very strict conditions, and antibiotics have to be prescribed when there is a risk of germs getting into the blood stream, for example during dental procedures.

You should make sure you take your patient ID card when you go into hospital as this carries vital contact details if the ward staff have any further questions.

What if I am admitted to hospital in an emergency?

If you have to wait to see a doctor in the accident and emergency department, try to remember the following:

  • Tell staff you have Parkinson’s and how important it is to get your medication on time.
  • Accident and emergency staff may not know a lot about Parkinson’s. Be patient and try to provide as much information as possible about how the condition affects you – the more they know, the more they can help you with your specific needs.
  • Explain to staff what medication you take. Show them your medication card. Ask them to keep a record of it in your notes and check they have recorded everything accurately.
  • Ask a member of staff to let your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse know that you are in hospital.
  • If your medication is in its original packaging, you may be allowed to self-administer it. If you are able to do this, keep taking your medication as you normally would at home.
  • Tell staff if you’ve had deep brain stimulation surgery.
  • After assessment in the accident and emergency department, you may be discharged. Depending on the reason for your admission, follow-up appointments may be made with a hospital clinic or your GP.     

Healthcare staff may want to monitor your condition and carry out more tests to help decide if you need to be admitted to hospital.

If this is the case, you may be moved to a Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU).

Alternatively, you may be admitted directly to a medical or surgical ward.

Download this information

Going into hospital when you have Parkinson's (PDF, 1.73MB)

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.

Last updated October 2014. 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].