• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Safety

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

What is a Serious Adverse Event?

An adverse event is any undesirable experience associated with the use of a medical product in a patient. The event is serious and should be reported to FDA when the patient outcome is:

Death

Report if you suspect that the death was an outcome of the adverse event, and include the date if known. 

Life-threatening

Report if suspected that the patient was at substantial risk of dying at the time of the adverse event, or use or continued use of the device or other medical product might have resulted in the death of the patient.

Hospitalization (initial or prolonged)

Report if admission to the hospital or prolongation of hospitalization was a result of the adverse event.

Emergency room visits that do not result in admission to the hospital should be evaluated for one of the other serious outcomes (e.g., life-threatening; required intervention to prevent permanent impairment or damage; other serious medically important event).

Disability or Permanent Damage

Report if the adverse event resulted in a substantial disruption of a person's ability to conduct normal life functions, i.e., the adverse event resulted in a significant, persistent or permanent change, impairment, damage or disruption in the patient's body function/structure, physical activities and/or quality of life.

Congenital Anomaly/Birth Defect

Report if you suspect that exposure to a medical product prior to conception or during pregnancy may have resulted in an adverse outcome in the child.

Required Intervention to Prevent Permanent Impairment or Damage (Devices)

Report if you believe that medical or surgical intervention was necessary to preclude permanent impairment of a body function, or prevent permanent damage to a body structure, either situation suspected to be due to the use of a medical product.

Other Serious (Important Medical Events)

Report when the event does not fit the other outcomes, but the event may jeopardize the patient and may require medical or surgical intervention (treatment) to prevent one of the other outcomes. Examples include allergic brochospasm (a serious problem with breathing) requiring treatment in an emergency room, serious blood dyscrasias (blood disorders) or seizures/convulsions that do not result in hospitalization. The development of drug dependence or drug abuse would also be examples of important medical events.