Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Failure Modes in Medical Device Software: an Analysis of 15 Years of Recall Data



Dolores R. Wallace, David R. Kuhn


Most complex systems today contain software, and systems failures activated by software faults can provide lessons for software development practices and software quality assurance. This paper presents an analysis of software-related failures of medical devices that caused no death or injury but led to recalls by the manufacturers. The analysis categorizes the failures by their symptoms and faults, and discusses methods of preventing and detecting faults in each category. The nature of the faults provides lessons about the value of generally accepted quality practices for prevention and detection methods applied prior to system release. It also provides some insight into the need for formal requirements specification and for improved testing of complex hardware-software systems.
International Journal of Reliability, Quality and Safety Engineering


assurance, detection, failures, fault, fault model, medical device, prevention, software quality
Created December 5, 2001, Updated November 10, 2018