The Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) represents a pivotal shift in the medical device industry’s regulatory landscape, aiming to streamline global requirements through a unified audit process. Developed by the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) and rooted in principles of the ISO 13485 standard, MDSAP offers manufacturers the chance to satisfy multiple jurisdictional requirements with a single audit. This overview delves into MDSAP’s origins, its alignment with ISO 13485, the certification scheme, challenges in implementation, and recurrent audit findings, offering insights for firms navigating this comprehensive regulatory program.

Harmonizing Global Standards: Navigating MDSAP, ISO 13485, and the Role of Intelligent QMS Solutions

The world of medical device regulation is a vast and complex one. In recent years, one program has emerged to streamline and unify regulatory oversight: the Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP). In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of MDSAP, its relationship with ISO 13485, its certification scheme, the challenges medical device firms face in its implementation, and common audit findings.

History of MDSAP

The MDSAP was conceived in 2012 as a response to the global nature of the medical device industry and the increasing need for more consistent international regulatory requirements. Developed by the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF), its primary aim was to allow medical device manufacturers to undergo a single regulatory audit that would satisfy the requirements of multiple regulatory jurisdictions.

Initially, the program started as a pilot in 2014, with the participation of regulatory authorities from the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Japan. After the successful completion of the pilot phase, the program fully rolled out in 2017.

Relation to ISO 13485

ISO 13485 is an internationally recognized standard that defines the requirements for a quality management system (QMS) specific to the medical device industry. While MDSAP is a program designed to unify international regulatory requirements for medical devices, its foundation heavily aligns with the principles laid out in ISO 13485.

This means that companies that already comply with ISO 13485 have a head start when aiming to meet MDSAP requirements. While not all elements of ISO 13485 are directly transferrable, the standard’s focus on risk management, continuous improvement, and the delivery of safe and effective devices provides a solid framework on which to build.

How the MDSAP Certification Scheme Works

Under MDSAP, a single audit by an accredited Auditing Organization (AO) can be used to satisfy the regulatory requirements of all the participating countries.

  1. Audit Sequence: The MDSAP audit follows a specific sequence that spans over three years. It begins with an initial certification audit, followed by surveillance audits in the second and third year. A recertification audit is then conducted in the third year.
  2. Audit Model: The program uses a process-based audit model. This encompasses the device’s lifecycle and evaluates the effectiveness of the manufacturer’s QMS. The audit focuses on specific processes like management, measurement, analysis, improvement, etc.
  3. Grading Non-Conformities: Unlike some other audits, MDSAP employs a grading system for non-conformities. This involves assigning a grade based on the severity of the non-conformity and its impact on public health.

Challenges Faced by Medical Device Firms

  1. Global Alignment: Since MDSAP encompasses requirements from multiple countries, companies may face challenges aligning their internal processes to satisfy all regulatory jurisdictions.
  2. Resource Intensity: The comprehensiveness of the MDSAP audit, given that it’s designed to satisfy multiple regulators, can be resource-intensive for companies.
  3. Understanding the Grading System: The MDSAP non-conformity grading system might be new to many companies, requiring them to adjust their internal audit practices.

Common Audit Findings

  1. Inadequate Risk Management: This includes not having a well-documented risk management process or failing to maintain and update risk management files.
  2. Ineffective CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Actions) Processes: Companies often struggle with documenting and demonstrating effective CAPA processes.
  3. Supplier Management Issues: This can be seen in not effectively evaluating, monitoring, or re-evaluating suppliers based on their impact on product quality.
  4. Lack of Management Oversight: Failing to demonstrate that management reviews are conducted regularly and effectively is another common finding.
  5. Document Control and Record Keeping: Inconsistent or inadequate documentation is a recurrent issue in many audits.


MDSAP stands as a testament to the medical device industry’s efforts to create a more unified and efficient regulatory landscape. While the path to compliance can be challenging, the benefits of participating in MDSAP, including streamlined global market access and potentially reduced regulatory scrutiny, can be a significant boon for medical device manufacturers. Like any complex regulatory program, the key to MDSAP success is early preparation, a deep understanding of the program’s nuances, and a commitment to quality at every organizational level.

In the ever-evolving landscape of medical device regulations, companies are constantly on the lookout for tools that can simplify and enhance their QMS procedures. IntellaQuest stands out as a solution tailored for this challenge. With over two decades of experience in Business Process Workflow and Document Management, our suite of integrated applications, such as DocuQuest for document control and AuditQuest for audit management, are designed to ensure seamless compliance, especially for standards like MDSAP and ISO 13485. The highly configurable nature of their software ensures it can be tailored to fit any enterprise’s specific needs, making audit processes streamlined and efficient.

For firms aiming to fortify their QMS, improve document and record control, and ensure smoother MDSAP and ISO 13485 audit processes, IntellaQuest offers an unparalleled solution. Our commitment to quality is underscored by their ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certifications, among other accolades. If you’re seeking to elevate your QMS capabilities and simplify regulatory compliance, IntellaQuest provides a robust solution. Reach out today to request a demo or take advantage of their no-cost 30-day proof-of-concept. Experience the future of intelligent workflow with IntellaQuest.

Document Control


  • A robust process to ensure compliance and comprehensive understanding of applicable regulations, policies, and laws
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  • Providing a comprehensive solution to manage regulatory compliance requirements and ability to monitor regulatory changes, update compliance policies and procedures, and ensure that the company is in compliance with all applicable regulations
  • Solution for managing audits, including scheduling audits, assigning auditors, conducting audits, and tracking audit findings facilitating the development of audit reports and track corrective actions taken in response to audit findings
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  • A complete solution for GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) management for life science industry to manage GRC functions efficiently
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