Yellow is the new black

Susan Huey 150x150Susan Huey, Clinical Pharmacist, Pre-registration Tutor and Yellow Card Champion for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Have you completed a yellow card? Are you encouraging your patients to report any adverse side effects to any medicines they are taking? All of us can do our part to help ensure healthcare products are acceptably safe for patients.

The Yellow Card Scheme is a special reporting system for possible adverse effects of medicines but are we making the most of the scheme?

As a Yellow Card Champion, I actively promote pharmacovigilance in all aspects of my day to day work and I ensure that all staff are aware of their responsibilities with regards to reporting adverse drug reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme.

I was appointed Yellow Card Champion for Cardiff & Vale UHB back in March 2013. There are 12 Champions across Wales. The champions were established up by the Yellow Card Centre Wales due to a fall in reporting. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a ‘Champion’ is a person who vigorously supports a cause and that’s what I do when it comes to yellow cards!

This role has opened many doors and created new opportunities such as networking with pharmacists throughout Wales, speaking at quality and safety meetings and attending the 50th anniversary of the Yellow Card Scheme organised by the AWTTC (All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre). Since taking on the role I have incorporated a teaching session into the pre-registration training program at Cardiff & Vale UHB and designed a yellow sticker to be placed on the drug chart to act as a prompt.

Completing a yellow card is not just an administrative exercise; you can often see the difference it makes to the lives of patients. For example, I recently submitted a Yellow Card to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for a patient who developed severe hyponatraemia after starting high dose co-trimoxazole.

All medications that could contribute to hyponatraemia were stopped and the patient was fluid restricted. Despite this, the patient’s serum sodium continued to drop. I highlighted to the doctors that hyponatraemia is listed in the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) as an undesirable effect especially in the elderly and with high doses. A decision was made to stop the co-trimoxazole and the patient’s sodium level gradually returned to normal.

The doctors were very grateful for my input and it provided a great opportunity for me to educate the doctors on the ward about when and how to fill in a yellow card. This also made an excellent CPD entry.

The annual report has shown that the number of yellow cards submitted to the MHRA in Wales in 2013-2014 increased by 81% compared to 2012-2013. It has felt very rewarding to have been involved in a scheme that has had such a positive impact on yellow card reporting.

Remember, yellow is the new black so please fill out a yellow card today and don’t rely on someone else to do it.

Yellow Card Scheme