Study highlights value of nurses for identifying adverse drug reactions

April 17, 2003

Authors of a research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlight the important role that nurses can play in detecting adverse drug reactions (ADR).

Policies vary across countries in authorising nurses to report ADR; the UK National Health Service recently expanded the reporting of ADR to nurses (in addition to doctors, dentists, coroners, and pharmacists) in October last year.

Munir Pirmohamed from the University of Liverpool, UK, and colleagues assessed the role of community and hospital nurses in the reporting of ADR. The proportion and quality of reports received from nurses was similar to that of those received from doctors: reports were received from one in seven nurses eligible to report, compared with one in eight doctors; 77% of nurse reports and 69% doctor reports were judged to be appropriate according to regulatory authority criteria.

Munir Pirmohamed comments: "Our findings show that nurses are capable of recognising and reporting adverse drug reactions. When compared with doctors, the proportion of nurses reporting, and the quality of reports received, was similar. The results are similar to those of a previous study in Ireland with hospital nurses. The meningitis C vaccine campaign has drawn further attention to the importance of nurse reports of ADRs. The role of nurses in the NHS is changing; a prominent development has been the extension of medicines nurses can prescribe. Prescription of medicines by nurses should logically be accompanied by an ability, and encouragement, to report ADRs after appropriate training. Our data suggest that nurses can play a valuable part in enhancing pharmacovigilance within the UK."
Contact: Professor Munir Pirmohamed, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Liverpool, Ashton Street, Liverpool L69 3GE, UK;
T) 44-151-794-5549;
F) 44-151-794-5540;


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