The Yellow Card Scheme: guidance for healthcare professionals
- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
- Part of:
- Patient safety and Vigilance, safety alerts and guidance
- First published:
- 23 January 2015
- Last updated:
- 3 January 2017, see all updates
Details of the Yellow Card Scheme, which is the system for recording adverse incidents with medicines and medical devices in the UK.
The Yellow Card Scheme is vital in helping the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) monitor the safety of all healthcare products in the UK to ensure they are acceptably safe for patients and users.
Reports can be made for:
- suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to all medicines including:
- blood factors and immunoglobulins
- herbal medicines
- homeopathic remedies
- all medical devices available on the UK market
- defective medicines (those that are not of an acceptable quality)
- fake or counterfeit medicines or medical devices
- nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and refill containers (e-liquids)
It is important that problems with medicines and medical devices and other nicotine e-cigarette products are reported, as the reports help identify new problems with these products.
MHRA will review the product and if necessary and take action to minimise risk and maximise benefit to patients and the public.
MHRA is also able to investigate counterfeit medicines or devices and if necessary take action.
What to report
For established medicines and vaccines you should report all serious suspected ADRs, even if the effect is well recognised.
We are particularly interested in receiving Yellow Card reports of suspected ADRs:
- in children
- in patients that are over 65
- to biological medicines and vaccines
- associated with delayed drug effects and interactions
- to complementary remedies such as homeopathic and herbal products
See what to include in your Yellow Card of an adverse drug reaction (PDF, 74.2KB, 3 pages) .
See specific areas of interest for adverse drug reactions reporting (PDF, 79.5KB, 3 pages) .
You do not have to prove causality to report a suspected ADR, only a suspicion is needed.
Black triangle scheme
New medicines and vaccines that are under additional monitoring have an inverted black triangle symbol (▼) displayed in their package leaflet and summary of product characteristic, together with a short sentence explaining what the triangle means – it does not mean the medicine is unsafe. You should report all suspected ADRs for these products.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for maintaining the list of black triangle products.
This symbol appears next to the name of a relevant product:
- in the British National Formulary (BNF)
- in the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC)
- in Monthly Index of Medical Specialties (MIMS)
- in the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Medicines Compendium
- on advertising material
- in Drug Safety Update
- in summaries of product characteristics and patient information leaflets
See the Black Triangle Scheme - new medicines and vaccines subject to EU-wide additional monitoring (PDF, 139KB, 4 pages) .
Any adverse incident involving a medical device should be reported.
If a device has been involved in an incident it should be quarantined if possible. Do not throw them away, repair them or return them to the manufacturer until MHRA has carried out its own investigation. Do not send medical devices to MHRA unless specifically requested.
Serious cases should be reported by the fastest means possible.
E-cigarettes and e-liquids
Any adverse incident involving a nicotine e-cigarette or refill container (e-liquid) should be reported. MHRA works with local Trading Standards bodies to ensure the safety of these products.
How to report
You can report through the Yellow Card website.
You can send medicines Yellow Card reports by post. Forms are available:
- by downloading and printing out a form (PDF, 145KB, 2 pages) .
- by writing to FREEPOST YELLOW CARD (no other address details necessary)
- by emailing email@example.com
If you want to report an incident with a medical device in Northern Ireland you should report it to the Northern Ireland Adverse Incident Centre (NIAIC).
If you want to report an incident with a medical device in Scotland you should report it to Health Facilities Scotland unless you are a private facility providing care to private clients, in which case you should report to MHRA and the Care Inspectorate.
Interactive Drug Analysis Profiles (iDAPs)
Interactive listings of all suspected ADRs reported by healthcare professionals and members of the public for a particular drug substance (formally called drug analysis prints) are available to view.
Further guidance and online learning
Guidance on adverse drug reactions (PDF, 78.9KB, 7 pages)
Contribution of Yellow Cards to identifying safety issues (PDF, 148KB, 8 pages)
Pharmacovigilance – how MHRA monitors the safety of medicines (PDF, 72.4KB, 5 pages)
E-learning modules for pharmacists
The Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education (CPPE) has developed a series of 3 e-learning programmes with the Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education and MHRA. The programme has been endorsed by the Drug Safety Research Unit.
The e-learning modules should help pharmacists understand how to identify, report and prevent ADRS.
E-learning module for nurses
The Nursing Times, in close collaboration with MHRA, have developed an e-learning module for nurses.
The module is free once you have registered and counts for 2 hours continuing professional development (CPD) credits.
Published: 23 January 2015
Updated: 3 January 2017
- Updated to include reference to reporting issues with nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and refill containers (e-liquids).
- Drug analysis prints renamed to Interactive Drug Analysis Profiles.
- First published.