Approval-adjusted recall rates of high-risk medical devices from 2002-2016 across food and drug administration device categories

Comeron W. Ghobadi, Timothy M. Janetos, Shelun Tsai, Jennifer L. Beaumont, Leah Welty, Jessica R. Walter, Shuai Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Between 2002 and 2016, 806 million medical devices were recalled. When approving a device, the FDA employs advisory boards organized by medical specialty (e.g. cardiovascular) to make approval recommendations. Previous work has demonstrated high numbers of recalled orthopedic and cardiovascular devices; however, no prior studies have controlled for the number of approvals by advisory board. The purpose of this study is to identify device fields at higher risk for safety problems. This study compares specialty-specific, approval-adjusted recall rates of high-risk medical devices from 2002 to 2016 by utilizing publicly available FDA data on recalls and approvals. Devices approved under general hospital (113), anesthesiology (98), and cardiovascular (98) advisory boards constituted 71% of all class I recalls. For devices approved via the more rigorous pre-market approval pathway, those under the purview of the general hospital (0.25 recalls/approval, 95% CI 0.15 - 0.41) advisory board had a significantly higher rate than average (p<0.05). For 510(k) cleared devices, microbiology (6.0 recalls/clearance, 95% CI 3.4 - 10.6), anesthesiology (0.04 recalls/clearance, 95% CI 0.03 - 0.04), general hospital (0.02 recalls/clearance, 95% CI 0.02 - 0.02), and cardiovascular (0.010 recalls/clearance, 0.009 to 0.015) advisory boards had significantly higher recall rates than average (p<0.05). Future regulatory resources should be directed towards device areas and approval pathways that pose a higher risk for safety problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages16
JournalIssues in Law and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • 21st century cures act
  • FDA
  • Medical device recalls
  • Medical devices and user fee act

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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