Objectives: Medical devices are ubiquitous in modern medical care. However, little is known about the epidemiology of medical devices in the healthcare marketplace, including the rate at which medical devices are subject to recalls or other advisories. We sought to study the epidemiology of medical devices in Canada, focusing on device recalls. In Canada, a recall may signify a variety of events, ranging from relatively minor field safety notifications, to removal of a product from the marketplace.
Methods: We used data from Health Canada to study medical device recalls in Canada from 2005 to 2015. We analyzed the risks of medical device recalls according to the risk class of the device (I lowest; IV highest) and the hazard priority of the recall (Type I highest potential harm; Type III lowest potential harm).
Results: During a 10-year period, there were 7,226 medical device recalls. Most recalls were for intermediate risk class (Class II, 40.1 percent; Class III, 38.7 percent) medical devices. Among recalled devices, 5.0 percent were judged to have a reasonable probability of serious adverse health consequences or death (Type I recall Hazard Priority classification). While the number of medical devices marketed in Canada is not known, over a similar 10-year period, 24,849 new Class II, II, and IV medical device licenses were issued by Health Canada.
Conclusions: Several hundred medical device recalls occur in Canada each year. Further research is needed to characterize the nature of medical device recalls, and to explore how consumers use information about recalls.