Medical Device Class (MDC)

Medical Device Class (MDC)


Medical device

A medical device is any instrument, apparatus, appliance, software, material or other article, whether used alone or in combination, including the software intended by its manufacturer to be used specifically for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes and necessary for its proper application, intended by the manufacturer to be used for human beings for the purpose of:

  • ·Diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease;
  • ·Diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury or handicap;
  • ·Investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process;
  • ·Control of conception; and which does not achieve its principal intended action in or on the human body by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, but which may be assisted in its function by such means

Medical devices vary according to their intended use and indications. Examples range from simple devices such as tongue depressors, medical thermometers, and disposable gloves to advanced devices such as computers which assist in the conduct of medical testing, implants, and prostheses. The design of medical devices constitutes a major segment of the field of mechanical engineering.


Medical Device Class

Medical device class (MDC) is a category that defines the amount of risk involved with a medical device in the United States and the proper procedures that must be followed when manufacturing and using the device. Medical devices are separated into three categories: Class I, Class II and class III.

Class I: General controls

Class I devices are subject to the least regulatory control. Class I devices are subject to “General Controls” as are Class II and Class III devices. General controls include provisions that relate to adulteration; misbranding; device registration and listing; premarket notification; banned devices; notification, including repair, replacement, or refund; records and reports; restricted devices; and good manufacturing practices. Class I devices are not intended to help support or sustain life or be substantially important in preventing impairment to human health, and may not present an unreasonable risk of illness or injury. Most Class I devices are exempt from the premarket notification and a few are also exempted from most good manufacturing practices regulation. Examples of Class I devices include elastic bandages, examination gloves, and hand-held surgical instruments.

Class II: General controls with special controls

Class II devices are those for which general controls alone cannot assure safety and effectiveness, and existing methods are available that provide such assurances. In addition to complying with general controls, Class II devices are also subject to special controls. A few Class II devices are exempt from the premarket notification. Special controls may include special labeling requirements, mandatory performance standards and postmarket surveillance. Devices in Class II are held to a higher level of assurance than Class I devices, and are designed to perform as indicated without causing injury or harm to patient or user. Examples of Class II devices include acupuncture needles, powered wheelchairs, infusion pumps, air purifiers, and surgical drapes.

Class III: General controls, Special Controls and premarket approval

A Class III device is one for which insufficient information exists to assure safety and effectiveness solely through the general or special controls sufficient for Class I or Class II devices. Such a device needs premarket approval, a scientific review to ensure the device’s safety and effectiveness, in addition to the general controls of Class I. Class III devices are usually those that support or sustain human life, are of substantial importance in preventing impairment of human health, or present a potential, unreasonable risk of illness or injury.  Examples of Class III devices that currently require a premarket notification include implantable pacemaker, pulse generators, HIV diagnostic tests, automated external defibrillators, and endosseous implants. 


About Areti Vassou

Digital Strategy Director. Make Ideas Happen @ Digital Media, Research, Social Media Strategy, Web Design, Digital Copywriting & Digital Graphic Design.