Every report counts: report suspected adverse drug reactions and take part in #MedSafetyWeek (2–8 November 2020)

Remain vigilant for suspected adverse drug reactions and report them to the Yellow Card scheme. Show your support during #MedSafetyWeek on 2–8 November 2020 by sharing material on social media and discussing with colleagues and patients the importance of reporting suspected adverse drug reactions.

What can healthcare professionals do to support MedSafetyWeek?

  • don’t delay in reporting suspected adverse drug reactions to the Yellow Card scheme online or via the Yellow Card app (download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store)

  • when prescribing, repeat prescribing, dispensing, administering or reviewing medicines, consider discussing the possible side effects with your patient – you could talk about:

    • reading the patient information leaflet that comes with their medicines – this lists possible side effects and advises them on what to do if they do experience these

    • the purpose of the Yellow Card scheme and how reporting any suspected problems can help the safe use of medicines for others

  • use the product information for medicines to find information on interactions, relevant precautions, and safety monitoring advice; talk to your colleagues about the importance of following the product information advice on monitoring and being vigilant for new adverse reactions

  • discuss with colleagues emerging news from Drug Safety Update and how reporting suspected adverse drug reactions to the Yellow Card scheme helps to improve the safe use of medicines

  • encourage your colleagues to sign up to receive monthly alerts for Drug Safety Update and other safety information from the MHRA about medicines and medical devices – these messages are also available through the Yellow Card app

  • follow the MHRA on its social media channels and show your support for the importance of reporting by retweeting, commenting, liking, and sharing material to help promote the campaign (see How to support #MedSafetyWeek)

This year’s theme: ‘Every report counts’

The theme of the campaign for 2020 is ‘every report counts’ and reporting helps others in future. The campaign will also mark receipt of its 1 millionth adverse drug reaction report since the Yellow Card scheme was established more than 50 years ago. The campaign calls upon patients, parents, and carers, as well as healthcare professionals and their organisations, to report suspected adverse drug reactions to medicines. We advise people not to wait for someone else but rather to report their suspicions directly as soon as they can.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Yellow Card reporting of suspected adverse drug reactions has decreased, especially from healthcare professionals. We appreciate healthcare professionals are under pressure at this challenging time, but reporting remains essential to patient safety.

It is hard to predict who will experience an adverse drug reaction, but it is essential that any potential risks are understood and communicated to patients and healthcare professionals. Reporting helps to identify new adverse drug reactions, recognise unexpected and serious safety problems, and gain more information about known effects. By reporting, you can help the safe use of medicines for everyone since this helps the MHRA to protect the public’s health through effective risk minimisation.

The Yellow Card scheme has identified many new safety issues that were unknown before being reported to the MHRA and this has enabled us to take action to minimise the risk to other patients. For example, one pharmacist used the Yellow Card Scheme to report a potential choking risk to patients.

Yellow Card - How one pharmacist made a difference to patient safety.

How to report

Yellow Cards can be used for reporting suspected adverse drug reactions to medicines, vaccines, herbal or complementary products, whether self-medicated or prescribed. The MHRA website provides full guidance on reporting a Yellow Card.

Yellow Card reports can be made for suspected adverse drug reactions:

Reports can also be made via freephone (0800 731 6789, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday).

Anyone can use the Yellow Card scheme to also report online any incidents involving medical devices (and via the app), defective, fake medical products and safety concerns for e-cigarettes or their refill containers (e-liquids). Please note, any medical device incidents should be reported to Health Facilities Scotland in Scotland and to the Northern Ireland Adverse Incident Centre in Northern Ireland.

Please use the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site to report suspected side effects to medicines or medical device and diagnostic adverse incidents used in coronavirus treatment. Please note that the reporting of incidents in clinical trials should follow trial protocols.

How to support #MedSafetyWeek

The annual MedSafetyWeek forms part an international effort to raise awareness about the importance of reporting suspected adverse drug reactions with national medicines regulatory authorities from 74 countries across the globe and their stakeholders participating. For more information see the Yellow Card Campaigns website.

We ask all healthcare professionals to show their support for the importance of reporting by retweeting, commenting, liking, and sharing material with their fellow colleagues and communication colleagues. Please help to promote the campaign by using #Everyreportcounts #MedSafetyWeek #patientsafety, #yellowcard.

Additional supporting information will be made available on the campaigns and resources tabs of the Yellow Card website during MedSafetyWeek. For example, use the email signature to help promote the campaign.

Article citation: Drug Safety Update volume 14, issue 3: October 2020: 6.

Published 22 October 2020