Risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers is an essential set of approaches to quality in the field of medical devices. Implementing these is of absolute importance and criticality to the field, as the products in this industry are high-specialty ones that deal with human lives. A small error at any stage can send the product, and with it, the reputation of the manufacturer and even the healthcare provider, into a tailspin.
From its beginnings a few decades ago as a “nice to have” feature or discipline that used to come into the picture only when there were issues; quality has grown into an indispensable element of a medical device product. A medical device product into which quality does not get intertwined at every stage, right from procurement of the raw material to the use it is put to by the consumer and beyond, is unthinkable today.
The primary driver of this metamorphosis is risk management. Risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers has been the lynchpin among the agents of change brought about into this field. Quality has evolved as a result of the change in the import regime in the US in the seventies, when products from around the world used to deluge the US market.
the consequences of this trade policy have led to the emergence of the creation of quality approaches such as Six Sigma and kaizen among many others, and global standards, of which ISO 14971 specifically relates to Quality Management Systems and methods for medical devices. Root Cause Analysis is at the root of each of these methodologies and standards.
So, what is risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers?
In the context of medical devices, risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers means applying a set of processes, policies, methods and practices into their manufacturing systems in alignment with respective and relevant standards as set out by global standards such as the ISO. The aim of these standards and practices is to analyze, assess, control and monitor risk. The ISO 14971 has been revised many times and each time this is done, the latest one becomes the extant version. This and other standards and practices prescribe steps and processes that need to be implemented at all stages of the product lifecycle.
The time at which to carry out risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers
Risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers is to be carried throughout the lifecycle of the medical device. A set purpose is set out at each stage of the manufacturing process. For example, medical device manufacturers are required to identify and eliminate potential hazards at the initial stage using the concepts of product optimization, and use the principles of risk elimination at all the next stages, and to use the methods prescribed during a product recall.
The ways of carrying out risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturersThe ways by which risk management and analysis for medical device manufacturers are to be exercised form an important part of quality. The ISO 14971 standard is pretty flexible in this regard, allowing the manufacturer to adapt any existing standard or approach that he thinks is best suited for his organization.