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Haims: For Parkinson’s patients, hospital visits can be complicated

Patient health and safety is always the top priority for a hospital. However, protecting patients from human errors, accidents, and infections is a complicated and arduous process. Sometimes, errors happen. With a bit of planning, everyone has the ability to help mitigate the chances for error.

According to a June article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Each year, in the United States alone, 7,000 to 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of other patients experience but often do not report an adverse reaction or other complication related to a medication.” Medication administration and management is a concern that can be better managed if you are proactive.

For patients who need Parkinson’s care, the timely delivery of medications upon being admitted to a hospital is imperative. Once admitted, making sure all hospital staff is aware of the proper delivery of medications, at very specified times, can alleviate catastrophic problems.

Unfortunately, The Parkinson’s Foundation finds that “three out of four people with Parkinson’s do not receive medications on time when staying in the hospital, and that when this occurs two out of three will experience unnecessary complications.”

Over the years, I have spoken to many other home care agencies about this. Sadly, the frequency in which we see our Parkinson’s patients experience delays in getting their medications timely after being admitted to a hospital is very high — perhaps 8 out of 10.

My mom had Parkinson’s, as did her mother. My personal experience with the disease and the number of Parkinson’s patients my office has assisted over the years has placed me in a unique position to see firsthand the frequency in which Parkinson’s patients encounter challenges receiving their medication promptly.

If you are a Parkinson’s patient or have a loved one who has Parkinson’s, it is of vital importance that once admitted to the hospital, all medical staff assigned to assist you or your loved one is made aware of the importance that medications are delivered at the times specific to your schedule. You should be diligent in doing this at each and every shift change. 

Yes, this is laborious. However, the consequences of not getting Parkinson’s medications on time can exacerbate the reason for admission to the hospital. Further, you may present differently without having taken your medications thus, medical staff may incorrectly assume that other medical issues may be at hand.

Following are some excellent tips from the Parkinson’s Foundation’s “Aware in Care Hospital Action Plan:

  • If possible, bring your medications with you in their original bottles. Admissions will tag the medications with your name. This will ensure you are getting the exact brand and dosing you are accustomed to. Not many hospitals have all the name brands and generics on hand.
  • Request a consultation with a neurologist. Provide the neurologist with a copy of your medications and the times you need them.
  • Ask your Parkinson’s doctor to contact the doctor in charge of your care in the hospital. He or she should provide detailed information about your medical condition and medications.
  • Ask to speak to the nurse in charge of the unit or floor (for each shift). Explain to him or her that you have Parkinson’s. Share your medication list and times you need the medications.
  • Each time any medical person asks about the medications you take, provide a printed copy of the medications you take and the times you need them. You most likely will have to supply this information multiple times. (you should bring a minimum for 10 copies to the hospital)
  • Be persistent! It can be difficult to let others know what you need, but it’s critical to give clear direction upon your arrival and throughout your stay.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being prepared, when the need arises, to advocate for yourself or a loved one. The time spent preparing will make dramatic differences in your well-being or the well-being of your loved one.

As the son of a Parkinson’s patient and the owner of a senior home care agency, I suggest clicking on the following link to review the Hospital Action Plan provided from the Parkinson’s Foundation’s. The action plan has some great suggestions and information.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. He can be contacted at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or by phone at 970-328-5526.


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