Depending on the type of research, adverse events such as SAEs, SUSARs and SADEs can occur during the research. On this page you will find the definitions of SAEs, SUSARs and SADEs. In addition, for each type of research a flowchart is available in order to determine what procedures need to be followed.


SAE is short for Serious Adverse Event. An SAE is any untoward medical occurrence in a patient or trial subject, which does not have a causal relationship with the treatment, and:

  • is fatal, and/or
  • is life-threatening for the subject, and/or
  • makes hospital admission or an extension of the admission necessary, and/or
  • causes persistent or significant invalidity or work disability, and/or
  • manifests itself in a congenital abnormality or malformation, and/or
  • could, according to the person that carries out the research, have developed to a serious undesired medical event, but was however prevented due to premature interference.


An SAE that occurs during research with a medicinal product may be a SAR or a SUSAR. SAR is the abbreviation for Serious Adverse Reaction, and SUSAR for Suspected Unexpected Serious Adverse Reaction.

An SAE that occurs during research with a medicinal product is a SAR if there is a certain degree of probability that the SAE is a harmful and undesired reaction to the investigational medicinal product, regardless of the administered dose. If the SAR is unexpected it is called a SUSAR. In this case ‘unexpected’ means that the nature and severity of the SAR do not match with the reference safety information (RSI) as included in the SPC text or Investigator’s Brochure.

SUSARs have to be reported to the reviewing MREC from the moment the dossier is submitted. This can be foreign SUSARs or SUSARs from the same medicinal product that occurred in a different study by the same sponsor if this information may have consequences for the safety of the research subjects in the study that is submitted for review.


An SAE that occurs during research with a medical device may be a SADE. SADE is the abbreviation for Serious Adverse Device Effect.


The following flowcharts (in Dutch) give for each type of research an overview of the reporting procedure with a more detailed explanation, as well as the exceptions that apply.