Adverse drug reaction and medication error reporting by pharmacy students

Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Mar;39(3):452-9. doi: 10.1345/aph.1E369. Epub 2005 Feb 8.


Background: The reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and medication errors is the responsibility of all who are involved, particularly pharmacists. Since pharmacists are often privy to information surrounding ADRs and medication errors, it is of utmost importance that they are educated regarding the procedures of reporting.

Objective: To determine pharmacy students' knowledge of and ability to report ADRs and medication errors.

Methods: A total of 1322 students from 9 colleges of pharmacy were surveyed.

Results: The largest group of respondents was fifth-year pharmacy students (38%) followed by third-, fourth-, and sixth-year students (28%, 26%, and 8%, respectively). The majority of students reported learning about ADR and medication error reporting programs via didactic experiences. In comparison, fewer students cited alternative mechanisms of learning, including experiential rotations and work experience. Overall, respondents demonstrated the most experience with MedWatch and the least experience with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). As students progressed through pharmacy curricula, there was a positive trend in the ability to locate and complete MedWatch forms. For VAERS and Medication Error Reporting (MER) program forms, however, this positive trend was broken at year 4. For all programs, significantly fewer students demonstrated appropriate use of the forms compared with those indicating familiarity with the programs.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that students are becoming familiar with ADR and MER programs via the college curriculum; however, there is opportunity for greater exposure and understanding. Colleges of pharmacy should continually seek methods to strengthen the education provided to pharmacy students regarding these programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Pharmacy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods