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Medical Devices: FDA's Premarket Review and Postmarket Safety Efforts

GAO-11-556T Published: Apr 13, 2011. Publicly Released: Apr 13, 2011.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing medical devices sold in the United States. In general, new devices are subject to FDA review via either the 510(k) premarket notification process, which determines if a device is substantially equivalent to another legally marketed device, or the more stringent premarket approval (PMA) process, which requires the manufacturer to supply evidence providing reasonable assurance that the device is safe and effective. FDA also has broad responsibilities for postmarket surveillance of devices, including oversight of recalls. A recall involves the correction or removal of a product from the market and is an important remedial action that can mitigate the risks associated with a defective or unsafe medical device. In recent years, GAO has identified a wide variety of concerns related to FDA's ability to fulfill its mission of protecting the public health and added FDA's oversight of medical products, including devices, to its list of high-risk areas. This statement provides an update on FDA's actions in response to a recommendation made in GAO's report, Medical Devices: FDA Should Take Steps to Ensure That High-Risk Device Types Are Approved through the Most Stringent Premarket Review Process (GAO-09-190, January 15, 2009). It also contains preliminary information on FDA's oversight of medical device recalls. Because of the preliminary nature of this work, GAO is not making recommendations at this time.

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