Adverse events

If there is a problem during the conduct of your project, you must take appropriate action, particularly if an animal is found to be unwell or showing abnormal clinical signs.

In this situation, animals must be appropriately assessed and treated, or veterinary advice sought.

  • Following an incident act quickly to remove obvious causes - the immediate welfare of animals is paramount
  • The reporting of such incidents is mandatory not voluntary
  • We consider all incidents involving animals as notable
  • The Animal Welfare Veterinarian (AWV) must be informed promptly in all cases, and will decide how you should respond and report

Why report incidents?

Reporting is ethically and legally mandatory. It is a condition of your University approval to use animals, and a requirement of the Code (Section 2.2.28), that: "investigators, teachers and animal facility managers promptly notify the Animal Ethics Committee of any unexpected, adverse incidents that may impact on the wellbeing of an animal in their care".

Incidents involving animals can be distressing, and it is beneficial to staff to feel that they have handled and communicated a difficult situation properly and professionally. Open and honest reporting also facilitates shared learning within the University research community.

What is an adverse incident?

An adverse incident is any event that is not anticipated within an approved animal ethics project - or was expected but has occurred at a frequency or severity in excess of that forecasted - which impacts negatively on the wellbeing of animal(s). This can be a single or cumulative event, and will normally involve unexpected mortality, morbidity or injury. Sudden deaths, and husbandry-related accidents (such as flooding), are included. Examples may include:

  • Laboratory: an animal developing unexpected adverse clinical signs or disease
  • Fieldwork: a wild animal dying in a trap or being injured during capture
  • Livestock: an animal getting stuck and seriously injured in research equipment

What do I do?

The simple formula is Act, Inform and Report (AIR):

  • Act
    Determine and remove obvious hazards while responding to the immediate needs of sick or at-risk animals.
  • Inform
    Immediately contact the Director of Laboratory Animal Services and the Animal Welfare Veterinarian as timely treatment, autopsies, testing or further risk minimisation strategies may be required.
  • Report
    All incidents are notable and will require the completion of an Adverse Event report in IRMA. The AWV will inform you of the correct response. Use notes (times, dates, numbers, details, actions) made to complete the form. The form will then be reviewed at the next appropriate Animal Ethics Committee.