Tools and Facts

Common reasons for Parkinson’s patients’ hospitalization


Motor complications/reduced mobility

Encephalopathy/drug-induced psychosis

Cardiac issues/syncope


Motor and psychiatric issues combined

Genitourinary infections


General medical problems

Gastrointestinal issues

Dementia with or without psychosis


Other pulmonary problems

Elective surgery/deep brain stimulation

Source: “Management of the hospitalized patient with Parkinson’s disease: Current state of the field and need for guidelines,” Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, March 2011


Help for patients and an action plan for hospital

Parkinson’s patients may require complex medication schedules and may experience adverse drug reactions to medications commonly prescribed in hospitals. And, because of the relative rarity of Parkinson’s disease, hospitals may not be equipped to manage their care optimally.

To minimize these risks, the National Parkinson Foundation in 2011 created a patient awareness campaign called “Aware in Care,” which features free kits that include Parkinson’s disease alert bracelets and a medication form that ensures patients get their medications on schedule.

The kits also include a “Hospital Action Plan” with advice and checklists meant to empower patients to advocate for themselves. The plan contains Parkinson’s disease fact sheets, “I have Parkinson’s disease” reminder slips, and a list of safe and potentially unsafe medications for patients or their caregivers to give to hospital staff members.

Michael S. Okun, M.D., professor and neurologist at the University of Florida and national medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation, advises patients to use the kit and work with the nurses, pharmacists and the other hospital staff day-to-day, shift-to-shift to educate these providers about the patient’s individualized medication regimen and about unsafe drugs. “Make sure they’re communicating with your neurologist,” he adds. — Geri Aston •