Postmarket surveillance of medical devices: current capabilities and future opportunities
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Recalls of cardiac implantable electrical devices (CIEDs) currently impact hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide. Premarket evaluation of CIEDs cannot be expected to eliminate all performance defects. Robust postmarket surveillance systems are needed to promote patient safety and reduce harm. Challenges impacting existing surveillance mechanisms include underreporting of defects, low rates of return of explanted CIEDs, lack of integration of surveillance into normal workflow, underutilization of existing resources including registries, a lack of capacity of aging resources, multiple proprietary platforms that lack interoperability, and the unmet need for common data variables as well as newer methods to generate, synthesize, analyze, and interpret evidence in order to respond rapidly to safety signals. Long-term solutions include establishing a unique device identification system; promoting expanded use of registries for surveillance and post-approval studies; developing additional methods to combine evidence from diverse data sources; creating tools and implementing strategies for universal automatic, triggered electronic event reporting; and refining methods to rapidly identify and interpret safety signals. Protection from litigation and creation of financial and other incentives by legislators, regulators, payers, accreditation organizations, and licensing boards can be expanded to increase participation in device surveillance by clinicians and health care facilities. Research to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of surveillance strategies is needed. Interim solutions to improve CIED surveillance while new initiatives are launched and the system strengthened are also presented.