Bringing medicines into hospital

  • Do I need to bring my child’s medicines into hospital?

    Bringing your child’s medicines into hospital is encouraged as it helps staff to check doses and make sure that their regular medicines are ordered correctly while they are in hospital.

    The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) will usually provide all of the medication prescribed by your child’s doctor during their hospital stay. Occasionally there may be some medicines that families need to bring with them that the hospital cannot supply, for example, medicines that have been supplied as part of a clinical trial or as part of the compassionate access program – your pharmacist will let you know if this is the case.

    The use of complementary (natural) medicines in the hospital is discussed in a separate fact sheet.

    Where are my child’s medicines stored while they are in hospital?

    Your child’s medicines will be stored in a ‘Patient’s Own Medication’ bag with their identification label on it. The bag will be stored in the medication room to make sure that the medication is managed by nursing staff and stored appropriately; for example, in the fridge if needed, and the medicine cannot be accessed by your child or other patients and family members.

    After your medicines have been reviewed by a pharmacist, they may be returned to you to take home if appropriate or they will be returned to you when you leave the hospital.

    Patients who have an adrenaline autoinjector (e.g. EpiPen®) for anaphylaxis may keep this medication at the bedside to use in case of an anaphylactic reaction. See our Allergic and anaphylactic reactions fact sheet for more information about using an autoinjector in the hospital.

    Can I administer my child’s medicines while they are in the hospital?

    Nursing staff are responsible for making sure that medicines are given according to the Doctor’s instructions while your child is in hospital. Doctors may change your child’s medication dose or stop a medication while they are in hospital (e.g. before surgery) so it is important that nursing staff manage medication administration to prevent harm. 

    Patients and carers are encouraged to participate in medication administration but this needs to be discussed with nursing staff to make sure the right medicine and dose is given to your child at the correct time.

    If you do give any medicine to your child while they are in hospital, please let your nurse know so that they don’t give your child an extra dose.

    The hospital’s responsibilities

    When your child is admitted to hospital, staff will:

    • Ask what medicines your child takes at home, including any complementary (natural) medicines
    • Ask whether you have brought your own medicines into hospital
    • Check any medicines that have been brought into hospital against your current medicine list
    • Once your medicines have been checked by a pharmacist, they may be returned to you if appropriate or stored in the medication room and returned to you on discharge
    • Doctors order your child’s medicines, nursing staff make sure that medicines are given according to the doctors instructions, pharmacists check medicine orders and supply medicines

    Your responsibilities

    • Tell your treating team about all of the medicines your child usually takes at home and any allergies or past reactions to any medications
    • Where possible, bring your child’s medicines into hospital as this helps staff to make sure they are being ordered correctly in hospital
    • Give the medicines to hospital staff so that they can be stored in the medicine room and managed by nursing staff
    • Check with nursing staff before giving any medicine to your child in hospital

    Key points to remember

    • If you bring medicines with you into hospital, they need to be stored in the medication room
    • Nursing staff are responsible for managing medication administration during your child’s hospital stay, parents and carers can assist nursing staff with giving medicines
    • Speak to your treating team if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s medications  

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    Why can’t I give my child’s medications in hospital like I do at home?
    Doctors may need to change your child’s medications while they are in hospital or stop certain medicines to prevent harm (e.g. some blood thinning medicines may need to be stopped before surgery to prevent bleeding). It is important that nursing staff manage your child’s medicines in hospital to ensure that the doctor’s instructions are being followed. If a medicine is given to a child by their nurse and also given by a parent or carer, the child may suffer harm from an overdose.

    My child usually has their medicines administered at certain times at home and I would like this to continue in hospital
    Speak to your nurse about your child’s usual medicine times and they will try to accommodate this. It is not always possible for nurses to give medicines at the exact same time as they also have other tasks to complete and usually look after several patients on a shift.

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Medication Safety Committee. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.

    Reviewed May 2023.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit


This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.