Now here’s a thought. It’s generally recognized that reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADR) is very poor. The Yellow Card system, introduced into the UK around 30 years ago, records just 10 per cent of all reactions.
This failure has been blamed on a range of factors. Sometimes the doctor is too busy, sometimes he doubts the drug was to blame, and sometimes he’s scared of some legal suit.
But, since last October, nurses have been allowed to complete the forms, and report any suspected ADR themselves.
In a ‘dry run’ that involved 768 nurses over a 21-month period, 177 reports of possible adverse reactions, including 64 cases of serious reactions, and the same number of reports of reactions to new drugs, were sent in.
Nurses, the adjudicators decided, are just as capable of reporting an ADR as a doctor, and – who knows? – perhaps we could see the totals soaring above the 10 per cent mark.
(Source: The Lancet, 2003; 361: 1347-8).