OVERWORKED hospital doctors are the least likely medics to report side-effects of prescription drugs to the Irish medicines watchdog.
New figures show hospital-based doctors were responsible for notifying the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) of 3-5pc of adverse drug reactions over three years.
But this compares to 5-6pc of reported side-effects coming from GPs while public health doctors directly submitted 8-12pc of the reports.
There were 3,202 suspected drug side-effects reported in 2010 and this dropped to 2,784 in 2011 before falling again to 2,757 in 2012.
Reporting suspected drug reactions is key to the surveillance of the safety of medicines.
Asked to comment on why hospital doctors appear to have the worst record for reporting side-effects, Dr Trevor Duffy, who represents hospital consultants in the Irish Medical Organisation, said it could be a question of priorities for very busy medics.
"When you are overworked and overstretched, it can be the kind of thing that goes down the priority list," he said.
"It takes time and structure. People need to be aware of it as an important issue.You look at most public hospitals at the moment and you may have problems getting access to computers.
"It is one of those things worthy of attention but it is a matter of putting it on the work plan. It may also be that the doctor reports it to the hospital pharmacist who in turn makes a formal notification."
A spokeswoman for the IMB said all reports were reviewed and evaluated both individually and in the context of other available data regarding the safety of the medicine concerned to see what, if any, action is needed.
Other reports are made by patients, nurses and pharmacists. The highest number come from the drug company authorised to market the medicine.
While a breakdown of the sources of reports across the EU is not published, patterns across healthcare professional groups in Ireland and the UK are broadly similar.
Ireland was ranked as the fourth highest reporter across countries taking part in a World Health Organisation programme from 2007 to 2012.