Aims: In Ireland there are relatively fewer adverse drug reaction (ADR/yellow card) reports from doctors in hospital than in general practice. The aim of this study was to review the attitudes to reporting of ADRs of hospital doctors and to determine the effect of making yellow cards freely available.
Methods: A postal survey of actively practising doctors with follow-up of nonresponders was undertaken. We addressed the single most frequently claimed deterrent to reporting, unavailability of yellow cards, by making cards prominently available and placing one in patient's chart upon admission. In addition, doctors were regularly reminded that ADRs should be reported.
Results: Of 118 hospital based doctors, only 45% had ever reported an ADR. Fewer than 5% of pre-registration house officers had reported an ADR and the likelihood of reporting increased with seniority and was greater among physicians than surgeons. We found no evidence that doctors had published case reports in place of submitting ADR reports. Over 3 months, the greater availability of yellow cards and reminders about reporting ADRs led to an approximate five-fold increase in reports but reporting declined rapidly thereafter when verbal reminders were withdrawn, despite continued ready availability of cards suggesting that making cards available alone does not significantly increase reporting.
Conclusions: This study indicates there may be more fundamental constraints to reporting than attitudinal surveys would suggest and we need to explore additional avenues to ensure a 'reporting culture'.