Abu Dhabi: A total of 616 cases of adverse reactions to medication were reported in the emirate of Abu Dhabi last year, Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) announced on Wednesday.

These were undesired harmful results, or side effects, from taking medication that were reported to the emirate’s health sector regulator. In addition, there were also 1,102 reports of medication errors, which were preventable events that might lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm, Haad said.

“This data was collected through Haad’s pharmacovigilance programme, which aims to improve the quality and safety of health-care services, and enhance overall patient experience. [Better vigilance of medication] should facilitate desirable therapeutic outcomes during a patient’s treatment, and help maintain the delicate balance between potential health benefits and risks associated with administering medication,” said Dr Khalid Al Jaberi, director of health regulation at Haad.

Haad’s programme has been in place since 2008. According to statistics for 2013-2015, antibiotics were responsible for 47 per cent of adverse drug reactions in the emirate. Anti-inflammatory medications also resulted in 19 per cent of these reactions, while painkillers and gastrointestinal drugs each accounted for five per cent.

“It is helpful for health-care providers to know the prevalence and cause of undesirable patient outcomes, as they can use this information to take remedial steps. These outcomes differ from community to community, and Haad’s data is therefore particularly informative with regard to patients in Abu Dhabi,” Dr Rajeshwari Patel, microbiology specialist at Medeor 24x7 Hospital in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.

For example, the Haad reports show antibiotics as being responsible for the majority of adverse drug reactions. This should encourage doctors to continue to be vigilant, through skin tests and reported patient history, before prescribing these medicines, she explained.

Medication errors, on the other hand, can occur because a patient does not take a medication in the correct manner or dosage, or because the wrong medication is somehow dispensed.

“Health-care providers try to trace how the error occurred in order to prevent similar occurrences in future. For their part, patients should inform doctors about known drug reactions, and take heed of medication use and dosage instructions,” Dr Patel advised.

Haad also urged health-care providers to continue to report adverse drug reactions and medication errors, through its e-notification system, in order to ensure the quality and safety of drugs available for residents in the emirate. If an adverse reaction to a drug is very frequently reported, the authority can even take regulatory action to withdraw the drug from the market.