Preparing for a hospital stay

A planned (booked) or emergency hospital stay may or may not be related to your Parkinson’s. But managing your condition in terms of your care and medication should always be a priority. You will need to make sure you can continue with your drug regime and that hospital staff understand how the condition affects you day-to-day.

Because of this it’s important to plan for a booked hospital admission. But having some things prepared for an emergency stay will also help you ease any anxiety.

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The Message in a Bottle scheme

This is a free scheme from Lions Clubs International. It is designed to help alert emergency services to your condition if they need to enter your property in an emergency by keeping your medical details in your fridge.

Speak to your pharmacist or Parkinson's nurse 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.

Carry a Parkinson’s UK alert card

This is a plastic alert card that you can keep in your purse or wallet in case of emergencies. You can order one for free here.

Smartphone medical ID

Many smartphones, including Apple and Samsung devices, have a Medical ID app. You can record that you have Parkinson’s along with the names of any medication you take. You can also include the contact number of a family member, friend or carer so that emergency services know who to call.

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If your admission is planned, it’s a good idea to tell your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse in advance. This will mean they can pass on your medical details to the team who will look after you in hospital. They can also tell them you need your medication on time. 

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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 Parkinson's, and any specific needs you may have. 

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

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

Pre-admission assessment can make sure you have a good stay in hospital and recover well. This is important because Parkinson's can increase recovery time in some people, but with the right care you will be able to recover as quickly as possible. 

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Keep a record of your medication

You can use a medication card to list your medication and how your symptoms affect you.

Storing your medication

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

Check that your medication 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 also have at least 24 hours’ supply so you don’t miss any doses.

Keeping a copy of our medication card with your supply will help medical professionals to quickly understand your treatment regime.

It can also be a good idea to store extra supplies of your medication. Let other people know where they are in case you need to use them.

Deep brain stimulation

If you have had deep brain stimulation and have a rechargeable unit implanted, you should take your recharging unit with you if you are going to be in hospital for more than a few days.

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It is important that hospital staff know what medication you take and when you need to take it as this will mean you don’t miss doses and can recover as quickly as possible.

Apomorphine and duodopa require specialist care so it’s particularly important to tell staff about them.

Staff can speak to your Parkinson’s nurse or the APO-go helpline for more advice (0844 880 1327). Depending on hospital policy, your carer may be able to continue managing this treatment.

Deep brain stimulation

It’s also important to tell staff if you’ve had deep brain stimulation.

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

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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.
  • 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 (DBS).
  • 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.

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.

Get It On Time

We're campaigning to make sure that everyone in a care home or hospital 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]