A patient's perspective: the impact of adverse drug reactions on patients and their views on reporting

S. Lorimer, A. Cox, N.J. Langford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What is known and objective: Adverse drug reactions to prescribed medication are relatively common events. However, the impact such reactions have on patients and their attitude to reporting such events have only been poorly explored. Previous studies relying on self-reporting patients indicate that altruism is an important factor. In the United Kingdom, patient reporting started in 2005; though, numbers of serious reports remain low. Method: A purposive sample of fifteen patients who had been admitted to an inner city hospital with an adverse drug reaction were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Patients were asked to relate in their own words their experience of an adverse drug reaction. Patient's reactions to the information leaflet, adherence to treatment and use of other sources of information on medication were assessed. Interviews were recorded, and a thematic analysis of patients'responses was performed. Results and discussion: Analysis of the patient interviews demonstrated the reality of being admitted to hospital is often a frightening process with a significant emotional cost. Anger, isolation, resentment and blame were common factors, particularly when medicines had been prescribed for acute conditions. For patients with chronic conditions, a more phlegmatic approach was seen especially with conditions with a strong support networks. Patients felt that communication and information should have been more readily available from the health care professional who prescribed the medication, although few had read the patient information leaflet. Only a minority of patients linked the medication they had taken to the adverse event, although some had received false reassurance that the drug was not related to their illness creating additional barriers. In contrast to previous studies, many patients felt that adverse drug reporting was not their concern, particularly as they obtained little direct benefit from it. The majority of patients were unaware of the Yellow Card Scheme in the UK for patient reporting. Even when explained, the scheme was felt too cold and impersonal and not a patient's 'job'. What is new and conclusion: Patients having a severe adverse drug reaction following an acute illness felt negative emotions towards their health care provider. Those with a chronic condition rationalized the event and coped better with its impact. Neither group felt that reporting the adverse reaction was their responsibility. Encouraging patients to report remains important but expecting patients to report solely for altruistic purposes may be unrealistic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-152
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics
Issue number2
Early online date18 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • adaverse drug reactions
  • patients


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