It is important that your Addison's or adrenal insufficiency is cared for throughout your hospital stay. As these are rare conditions, the hospital staff caring for you may not be aware of some of the complexities of these health conditions.

Here are our tips to help you and those looking after you. Working together and being prepared ahead of your hospital stay will lead to a better experience for you as the patient and shorter length of stay. These simple but important steps can help give you peace of mind and support your care during your hospital stay. 

When you get to the hospital, make sure those looking after you are aware you have Addison's or adrenal insufficiency and are steroid-dependent. This is so staff at the hospital can give you the right care – both physically and emotionally. Getting good care in hospital involves working with healthcare professionals to help them understand what you need.

Steroid Dependency Alerts

These patient-held prompts alert healthcare professionals to ensure steroid treatment is given appropriately and promptly. Remember to always talk to staff if you’re worried about anything.

You may want to share the information on this webpage with a family member or friend, so they can be prepared too. You could use our Personal Emergency Plan. Here are some quick links for your advocate to view, keep safe and follow in case of emergencies:

Managing your adrenal insufficiency in hospital

If you are very ill and unable to look after yourself, the staff at the hospital will manage your adrenal insufficiency as well as any other health issues you have. The more information they have, the easier this will be – so make sure family members or friends know how you manage your adrenal insufficiency. You might want to write this down for them or share the link to the page. Or download and print the following information:

Place your NHS Steroid Emergency Card or ADSHG adrenal crisis guidelines on your bedside table so your steroid-dependency is quickly identified by all hospital staff. You can also place a steroid-dependency drug chart sticker on your hospital file.

The ward staff will need to involve the Endocrine team in your care while you’re in hospital and to make sure you’re ready for when you are discharged. It’s important you know things like your sick day rules – which are steps to take if you get ill for any reason and help you manage your adrenal insufficiency when you’re sick. 

When in hospital, here are some items to discuss with those involved in your care: 

  • Make sure they are aware of your condition and the importance of timing of medication
  • Aware of the importance of allowing you as a patient to retain your medication if you are admitted into hospital. Hospital dispensing times on wards may not align well with a patient's usual medication management schedule. Some Trusts have medication self-administration policies that allow patients to self medicate so do ask about this.
  • Ask if they have a steroid alert system on their electronic hospital files - here is an example from Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
  • Aware of any concerns you have about going into hospital - they may be able to advise and reassure you.

If you need to stay over in hospital (inpatient)

Here’s a handy checklist of what to take to hospital if you need to stay overnight as an inpatient. Don’t worry if you forget some of these, especially if you’re leaving home in an emergency. Tell the hospital staff you have adrenal insufficiency and are steroid-dependent. Let them know what you need to stay well – or ask a family member or friend to let them know.

  • Medication – adrenal insufficiency medication and anything else you take. Include a copy of your recent prescription/ medication list, so you can easily show healthcare professionals your current medication regime.
  • Emergency Hydrocortisone Kit
  • hospital folder with your key information in and/or ADSHG leaflets, such as the Surgical Guidelines, hospital drug chart stickers and Notes for Nurses. This can then be picked up and taken there easily by you, your carer or patient advocate.
  • Important numbers – take your phone and a charger.
  • A change of clothes.
  • Things to pass the time – like a magazine or a book.

Personal Experiences

On our blog we share peoples' stories and experiences about living with Addison’s and adrenal insufficiency. It can be comforting and helpful to learn from others who have been in a similar position to yourself, so browse the blog and the stories kindly shared by our community.

If you are in hospital and would like to speak to others, our online forum is there for your 24/7, to start your own topic or read through previous conversations. You may also like to visit our Sanctuary of Support page.

Be Prepared - register with your local paramedics

Read more about the things you can do to be prepared in your day-to-day life, as well as registering with your local ambulance trust.

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