A team led by Professor Tony Avery of Nottingham University Medical School looked at more than 26,000 adverse events reported through the yellow card scheme. It found that patients provided more detailed descriptions than healthcare professionals.
Professor Avery said GPs were 'in an excellent position to encourage patients to make reports' on the patient version of the yellow card form.
'Patients filling in their own reports explain the side-effects in their own words and often provide more detail than healthcare professionals,' he said.
'Suggesting that patients consider filling in a yellow card may help to indicate that their symptoms are being taken seriously. Also, patients may be motivated by the idea of providing information that will help improve understanding of side-effects,' he said.
Professor Avery said it was important for patients to have realistic expectations about what would happen to their reports. 'Some expect that by making a report, a drug will be taken off the market immediately, or new warnings may be added very quickly,' he said.
'The reality is that it may take a large number of reports.'