Spontaneous reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) remains one of the most effective methods to detect new and serious drug reactions. However, it is well known that there is a high degree of under-reporting.
This study was carried out as an attempt to improve and increase the reporting of ADRs by investigating the utility of nurses reporting in addition to physicians, as usual.
During a 12-month study period, nurses working at two departments of geriatric medicine in northern Sweden received special instruction regarding drugs and ADRs, ADR reporting and special aspects of ADRs in elderly people. The reports from the nurses were scrutinized concerning the seriousness of the reaction, reported drugs and type of reaction (type A or B). All nurses working at the two departments (117) were eligible to report but in practice only those attending the teaching sessions did so. A comparison with historical reporting and with reporting from other geriatric departments in Sweden was also carried out. At the end of the study all participating nurses received a questionnaire aimed at investigating their attitudes towards ADR reporting.
After the 12-month study period 18 ADR reports involving 22 reactions had been received. Seven of these were assessed as serious reactions. All of the reactions were of type A. In comparison, during the corresponding time period from the study clinics during the preceding year, only two reports were registered. During the study period only 15 reports were registered from the other 50 geriatric departments in Sweden.
Even though the total number of ADR reports was small, our data indicate a substantial increase in the reporting rate. This indicates that instructed and interested nurses could play an important role in detecting and reporting suspected ADRs.
Erratum In: Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2003 Mar;12(2):157-9