Safety Training

Integrating the medical electrical equipment safety standard series, IEC 60601, into the design process

IEC 60601, IEC/ISO 80601, Ed 3.1 Series

This course is an intense 3.5 day training course. Presentation slides contain excerpts from the applicable safety standards, and frequent examples to illustrate how the safety requirements apply to typical medical device designs. Participants are broken into work groups where they put newly learned safety requirements into practice with assigned exercises. The groups review their answers with the class. The slides and a work book is given to each participant. After the class, the work book with answers is given to participants. Our course continues to evolve to stay up to date with latest standards, interpretations, regulatory guidance, and feedback from over 1400 past participants. Participants are encouraged to ask questions about the safety requirements, and how they apply to their products currently under development.

The goals of the course are:

  • Practical application of requirements to typical medical device designs,
  • Applying new concepts in skill implementation work group exercises,
  • Avoiding safety pitfalls,
  • Supporting regulatory requirements,
  • Integrating risk management, usability engineering, and test requirements into the design process, and
  • Documenting compliance to IEC 60601-1 using IECEE CB formatted test report forms.

Standards covered include

  • Medical Electrical Equipment -- Basic safety and Essential performance (general), IEC 60601-1:2005 + C1:2006 + C2:2007 + A1:2012 + A1-C1:2014 + A2:2019 (draft), Ed 3.1 and 3.2 (draft), including US, Can, and EU differences
  • Risk Management, ISO 14971:2007, including IECEE CB-OD 2044:2013, ed 2.2, and EU/EN Annex ZA:2012
  • Usability Engineering, IEC 60601-1-6:2006 + A1:2013, IEC 62366:2007 + A1:2014, and IEC 62366-1:2015
  • Alarms, IEC 60601-1-8:2006 + A1:2012 + A2:2017/CD (draft)
  • Programmable systems, Software, Clause 14, general standard; IEC 62304:2006 + A1:2015
  • Home healthcare, IEC 60601-1-11:2015
  • Emergency medical services (pre-hospital), IEC 60601-1-12:2016


Frank O’Brien has over 35 years of experience testing medical devices. As an instructor, Frank is often credited with bringing a degree of fun to learning. He's been teaching IEC 60601-1 courses since 1996 for organizations including IEC, AAMI, UL, Quadtech, and O’Brien Compliance Management (OBCM).

Since 2018, Frank is semi-retired, providing only training services and participating on IEC TC62 committees.

From 2004 to 2017, Frank was the principal engineer at OBCM, providing consulting and testing services for medical device manufacturers. OBCM was a Partner Test Lab for TUV Rheinland. From 1980 to 2004, Frank was a Manager and Senior Staff Engineer at Underwriters Laboratories, where he evaluated medical devices. UL offices where Frank worked included Melville, NY; Offenbach, Germany (at VDE); Santa Clara, CA; and Chelmsford, MA.

Since 1996, Frank has been on IEC committees drafting IEC 60601 standards, including the new 3rd edition of IEC 60601-1, its Amendment 1, the in-process Amendment 2; the home care medical equipment collateral standard, IEC 60601-1-11; the light ion (e.g. proton) therapy equipment particular, IEC 60601-2-64; and the robotically assisted surgical equipment, IEC 60601-2-77.

Frank is a Professional Engineer in New York State. Frank has an MS degree from Stony Brook University in Technology Management, including MBA courses macro economics and financial accounting, and a BS degree from Clarkson University in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Frank and his wife Rita split their time between homes in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Ireland; and Lowell, MA, USA.

The course is geared towards

  • Technical design engineers
  • Compliance engineers
  • Regulatory/quality system specialists
  • Any staff responsible for medical device safety

There are no course prerequisites, although some familiarity with quality management and risk management procedures is helpful.

Included in course fee

  • All presentation slides, (pdf),
  • Skill implementation work group exercise book (dgoc, docx), risk file form (gsheet, xlsx),
  • Answers to work group exercises (gdoc, docx; gsheet, xlsx),
  • Certificate of Participation for nn hours of instruction and exercises (nn=28 h for safety, =12 h for emc)
  • Continental breakfast, lunch, and break snacks (1.5 d EMC course includes 1 lunch; 3.5 d safety course includes 4 lunches)

Course modules

0 Introduction

1 Role of 601

2 Safety characteristics

3 Safety philosophy

4 Risk & Usability

5 Essential Performance

6 Electrical protection

7 Mechanical protection

8 Thermal & Other protection

9 Systems

10 PEMS & Software

11 Alarms & Information for safety

12 Testing & Wrapup

Not covered are details about EMC (Clause 17, IEC 60601-1-2, see separate EMC course), Sterility (clause 11.6.7), nor Biocompatibility (clause 11.7, ISO 10993).

Module organization over 3.5 days

Frankfurt, start Tuesday, 8:15 am, end Friday 12 noon.

Boston/Lowell, start Tuesday, 1 pm, end Friday, 4:30 pm.

Group exercises

Groups are assigned 1 of 3 typical medical devices; a patient monitor, an AED, or a CPR device. For your medical device, the following exercises are assigned. The class reviews the results:

  1. Identify Applicable Safety Standards
  2. Specify Device Classifications
  3. Create Risk Management records (for given hazards and foreseeable sequence of events), and document in Test Report Form
  4. Specify Essential Performance Test Plan (from RM results)
  5. Risk assess MOPP/MOOP insulation
  6. Specify Insulation Diagram (for given circuit block diagram) and specify insulation parameters
  7. Specify Electrical Test Plan
  8. Specify Mechanical, Thermal and other Test Plan
  9. Specify System Test Plan (for arthroscopic system cart)

Course content and exercises by module

About 3/8 (37%) of course time is spent within groups working on exercises to practice applying the safety requirements just learned.

Module 0, Course Introduction

mod 0 introduction 2019