IEC 60601-1 Third Edition

What you need to know

For manufacturers of medical electrical equipment and systems, IEC 60601-1 Edition 3.1 (or IEC 60601-1:2005+AMD1:2012) represents a significant departure from Edition 3.0 of the standard. While the application of risk management principles has been clarified, the amended standard includes new requirements regarding essential performance, mandates usability engineering evaluations, and requires the adoption of a formal development life cycle process for software. The amended standard also includes a number of new or revised technical specifications for electrical and mechanical hazards, as well as new product labeling and documentation requirements.

Here is an overview of the new and modified requirements included in IEC 60601-1 Edition 3.1.

Risk Management (Subclause 4.2)
The description of risk management has been rewritten to clarify how ISO 14971:2007 should be applied. The rewrite clarifies that a full ISO 14971 assessment and post-production monitoring are not required for compliance.

Essential Performance (Subclause 4.3)
Amendment 1 now requires manufacturers to establish specific performance limits, and to evaluate essential performance characteristics under abnormal or fault conditions. In addition to these changes, essential performance is now a test criteria in assessing if a hazard is present after a specific test. Also, manufacturers must declare specific essential performance criteria in the product’s technical description.

Humidity (Subclause 5.7)
Humidity testing requirements from IEC 60601-1 Edition 2.0 have been reinstated.

Documentation (Clause 7)
A number of new documentation requirements for user manuals and instructions for use (IFU) have been added. In addition, electronic versions of all accompanying documentation must apply the usability engineering process as covered in the collateral standard, IEC 60601-1-6, Usability, in determining what information must be presented.

Marking and Labeling (Subclause 7.2.2)
Equipment and accessory labeling must include a unique serial number or lot batch identifier, date of manufacturer or “use-by” date, and manufacturer contact information. 

Electrical Hazards (Clause 8)
There are a number of changes related to protections from potential electrical hazards, including defibrillation protection, protective earth and creepage and clearance distances. There are new limits for leakage current testing for functional earth connections. Protective earth testing with a power supply cord is required for devices equipped with appliance inlets. Permanently installed equipment must include a power lockout device if reconnection presents a potential hazard to a user.

Mechanical Hazards (Clause 9)
Testing for mechanical hazards related to instability and mobile equipment has been modified to include functional testing.

Temperature Testing (Clause 11)
For applied parts, temperature limits have been clarified. For overflow, equipment must be designed to ensure that basic safety and essential performance are maintained at all times.

Programmable Electrical Medical Systems (PEMS) (Clause 14)
Amendment 1 incorporates many of the specific requirements of IEC 62304:2006, Medical Device Software Life Cycle Processes, which are applicable to equipment and systems whose operation depends on software or any programmable element (also known as PEMS). In addition, Amendment 1 incorporates validation requirements for equipment connected to a network.

Construction (Clause 15)
For mechanical strength, “basic safety and essential performance” replaces “unacceptable risk.” Requirements for the construction of transformers have reverted to IEC 60601-1 Edition 2.0. Lithium batteries must comply with IEC 60086-4 (primary cells) and IEC 62133 (secondary cells).


Learn more about risk management and the manufacturer’s responsibility, mandated use of collaterals, and Part 2 standards in our Medical Regulatory Compliance Seminar featuring presentations on Product Safety requirements according to IEC 60601-1 3rd Edition, Electromagnetic compatibility requirements according to IEC 60601-1-2 4th Edition and Home healthcare requirements according to IEC 60601-1-11. Click below to register or learn more.

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