Adverse reactions: Learning outcomes

Last updated: Thursday, November 18, 2021

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Decide whether a patient's reaction is caused by a drug or not.
  • Adopt a practical approach to managing adverse reactions, and advise other professionals about them.
  • Talk to patients about the risk of side effects, and give them management strategies should they occur.

You can download a PDF of the whole tutorial (without interactive elements such as the Learning exercises) and a one-page summary of key points.

You should allow 90 minutes to complete this tutorial, including the Learning exercises.


This tutorial is aimed at hospital trainee pharmacists, and will help you achieve GPhC learning outcomes such as these:

  • LO 5 Proactively support people to make safe and effective use of their medicines and devices
  • LO 12 Take an all-inclusive approach to ensure the most appropriate course of action based on clinical, legal and professional considerations
  • LO 16 Apply professional judgement in all circumstances, taking legal and ethical reasoning into account
  • LO 27 Take responsibility for the legal, safe and efficient supply, [prescribing] and administration of medicines
  • LO 29 Apply the principles of clinical therapeutics, pharmacology and genomics to make effective use of medicines for people [including in their prescribing practice]
  • LO 30  Appraise the evidence base and apply clinical reasoning and professional judgement to make safe and logical decisions which minimise risk and optimise outcomes for the person
  • LO 34 Apply the principles of effective monitoring and management to improve health outcomes
  • LO 35 Anticipate and recognise adverse drug reactions, and recognise the need to apply the principles of pharmacovigilance
  • LO 48 Actively take part in the management of risks and consider the impacts on people

If you are a foundation pharmacist, this tutorial may assist with meeting certain competencies from the RPS framework including:

  • 1.1 Applies evidence-based clinical knowledge to make suitable recommendations or take appropriate actions 
  • 1.6 Uses own pharmaceutical knowledge to positively impact the usage and stewardship of medicines at an individual and population level.
  • 1.7 Undertakes a holistic clinical review of a person’s medicines to ensure they are appropriate.
  • 2.1 Keeps the individual at the centre of their approach to care at all times.
  • 3.1 Draws upon own knowledge and up-to-date guidance to effectively make decisions appropriately and with confidence.
  • 3.2 Critically appraises appropriate information to make a decision in an efficient and systematic manner; adopts evidence-informed solutions.
  • 3.3 Demonstrate awareness of where to seek appropriate information to solve problems and make decisions. 
  • 3.5 Manages uncertainty and possible risk appropriately, while ensuring high attention to detail is maintained when making decisions regarding the individual receiving care.
  • 6.5 Uses effective questioning when working with individuals receiving care or other healthcare professionals.

Continuing professional development

Finally, here are some CPD activities you could consider:

★  Next time that you identify an ADR meeting the MHRA criteria, report it via the Yellow Card Scheme. Write a CPD entry on what you have learned about the reporting process. Were there any aspects of it that caused you difficulties?
★  Reflect on the best ways in which you can keep abreast of medicine safety issues. Do you feel that you are up-to-date enough about safety issues when you screen prescriptions on your wards or in the dispensary? Write an account summarising how prepared you feel to meet your professional responsibilities.
★  If you feel that your handling of an ADR or safety issue has not gone entirely to plan, take time to meet with a colleague to discuss it. Write this up as a CPD exercise. What did you learn that might make you tackle the situation differently next time, and do you feel more able to support patients as a result?