Yellow card champions to help increase reporting of adverse drug reactions

The Yellow Card Scheme is vital in helping the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) monitor the safety of medicines and vaccines that are on the market. The Yellow Card Centre Wales (YCC Wales) is one of five regional adverse drug reaction (ADR) monitoring centres acting on behalf of the MHRA.

The number of Yellow Cards reported in Wales to the MHRA fell by 26% in 2011–12 — the lowest annual number submitted from Wales for the past ten years. Of all reporters, hospital pharmacists accounted for the highest number. However, in 2011–2012, reports submitted by hospital pharmacists fell by 37% compared with the previous year. Similarly, reports from hospital doctors fell by 24% over the same period.

We asked all health boards in Wales to nominate a pharmacist or pharmacy technician as a Yellow Card champion, and there were 13 champions recruited. They received training on the background of the scheme, ADRs and their classification, how to complete a Yellow Card, and their new role. They also attended a workshop on overcoming barriers to completing a Yellow Card. The champions received a resource pack containing standardised teaching material on the Yellow Card Scheme, promotional material (e.g. YCC Wales post-it notes and pens) and a spreadsheet to collect details of the training sessions they conducted. During a 12-month period, YCC Wales sent them regular emails outlining the latest pharmacovigilance news and two teleconferences were held to share ideas and progress being made.

All Yellow Cards are reported direct to the MHRA in London, and compiled and sent to YCC Wales quarterly. These data can be further categorised by reporter type and health board. A total of 1,177 reports of suspected adverse drug reactions came from the YCC Wales region in 2013–14. This represents an increase of 81% when compared with 2012–13 (649). The results for 2013–14 also show an increase in reports from hospital pharmacists of 189% compared with the previous year. This represents the highest number of reports received by hospital pharmacists in Wales since hospital pharmacists have been able to report via the scheme.

The Yellow Card Hospital Champion Scheme has enabled YCC Wales to reach a wider audience across all health boards in Wales. In total, 438 extra healthcare professionals received training on the Yellow Card Scheme at 38 sessions. All champions gave positive feedback on their experience after 12 months and indicated that they would be prepared to continue in the role.

We recommend that all acute hospitals give consideration to assigning a Yellow Card champion in their hospital pharmacy team as a way of improving awareness of pharmacovigilance and submission of Yellow Cards.

Alison Thomas, medical director

Philip Routledge, associate medical director

Robert Bracchi, primary care adviser

Emma Carey, specialist information pharmacist

Alana Adams, senior information pharmacist

Yellow Card Centre Wales, Penarth

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, February 2016, Vol 8, No 2;8(2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200416

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