Unpacking the Differences: ISO 9001 vs ISO 13485 for Medical Devices

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September 29th, 2023

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ISO 9000 and ISO 13485 are international quality management system (QMS) standards, with specific relevance to medical devices. This guide emphasizes their differences, spanning quality management systems, document control, purchasing practices, internal audits, and handling nonconformities and corrective actions.

ISO 9001 is a generic QMS standard applicable to various organizations worldwide. It concentrates on customer satisfaction, continual improvement, and the establishment of a documented quality policy. ISO 9001 necessitates the monitoring and measurement of processes and products to ensure compliance with customer requirements and regulatory standards. It also mandates internal audit programs and allows organizations to achieve internationally recognized certification for quality.

ISO 13485 is tailored for the medical device industry, expanding upon ISO 9001 with specific medical device requirements. ISO 13485 covers risk management, regulatory compliance, and product lifecycle considerations. It underscores the importance of risk-based approaches, risk assessment, and comprehensive documentation. Adhering to ISO 13485 is crucial for medical device manufacturers to ensure the safety and efficacy of their products.

Quality Management System Requirements

  • ISO 9001 emphasizes customer-oriented process management, quality objectives, and continual improvement.
  • ISO 13485 augments these requirements with a focus on risk management, risk assessment, and regulatory compliance. It requires comprehensive documentation and robust quality control.

Design and Development Requirements for Medical Devices

  • ISO 9001 sets general guidelines for product development, with an emphasis on continual improvement.
  • ISO 13485 further outlines the product development process, emphasizing risk management and regulatory compliance. It necessitates clear documentation and validation of design changes.

Document Control Requirements

  • Both standards stress the importance of accurate, up-to-date documents.
  • ISO 13485, tailored for the medical device industry, places additional emphasis on traceability and supplier control, recognizing the unique requirements of this field.

Purchasing Requirements

  • ISO 9001 requires organizations to ensure that materials meet their standards and customer requirements.
  • ISO 13485 adds an emphasis on risk assessment, monitoring supplier performance, and addressing nonconforming materials to ensure product safety and regulatory compliance.

Internal Audit Requirements

  • Both standards mandate internal audits to ensure compliance and identify improvement opportunities.
  • ISO 13485 emphasizes a broader scope and depth of auditing, ensuring all processes and activities that affect product conformity are evaluated.

Nonconformity and Corrective Action Requirements

  • ISO 9001 focuses on preventive actions and correcting nonconformities.
  • ISO 13485 emphasizes containment actions to maintain product quality, along with risk assessment and releasing products for sale.

Understanding these key differences is essential for organizations, especially in the medical device industry, to meet regulatory requirements, enhance product safety, and maintain a competitive edge. Organizations must align their quality management systems with the relevant standard(s) and keep up with any revisions or updates to ensure ongoing compliance.

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ISO 9000 is an international quality management system (QMS) standard, and ISO 13485 is a QMS Standard specifically designed for medical devices. Understanding the key differences between the two standards is vital for any organization in the medical devices industry – with each one having distinct requirements for product development, document control, nonconformities, and corrective action.

The ISO 9001 standard has been around since 1987 and has undergone multiple revisions to keep up with changes in the global business environment. It’s a generic quality management system that can be applied to all types of organizations. The ISO 13485 standard was first published in 1996 as a response to the increasing demands for greater quality in medical devices.

In this guide, you will learn about ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, including their respective requirements for quality management systems, document control, purchasing practices, internal audits, and nonconformities & corrective actions.

Overview of ISO 9001

ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized standard for quality management systems (QMS). It is used by organizations to demonstrate their commitment to providing quality products and services that meet customers’ needs and expectations. The standard sets out the requirements for a QMS, including how the organization should design, develop, manage, and improve its processes and operations. ISO 9001 requires organizations to have a documented quality policy and procedures, and to focus on continual improvement.

Organizations must monitor and measure their processes and products to ensure they meet customer requirements and are in line with regulatory standards. Quality results must be reported to management for review. Additionally, ISO 9001 requires organizations to develop an Internal Audit Management Program to ensure compliance with its policies and procedures.

Organizations that successfully meet all the requirements of ISO 9001 can receive certification from an independent, accredited certification body. This certification is an internationally recognized mark of quality, and helps organizations stand out in an increasingly competitive market.

Overview of ISO 13485

ISO 13485 is an internationally recognized standard which defines the quality management system requirements for medical devices. It is based on the ISO 9001 standard but with additional requirements specific to the medical device industry. As a result, it ensures that medical devices produced are safe and suitable for their intended purpose.

The ISO 13485 standard requires organizations to address risks associated with medical devices throughout the product lifecycle. This includes the design, development, distribution, installation, service and potential retirement phases. It emphasizes on continuous improvement and effective risk management processes.

ISO 13485 also provides a framework for regulatory requirements specific to the medical device industry. It ensures compliance with regulations set by various countries. The standard also addresses the special needs of customers along with applicable cultural, legal and safety requirements.

Organizations who comply with ISO 13485 must have up-to-date documentation and records that show all processes, activities, results, and decisions related to creating and controlling medical devices. It is important for any organization that produces medical devices to understand the differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 in order to achieve compliance with the latest version of the standard.

Quality Management System Requirements of ISO 9001

ISO 9001 is an international standard that sets out the criteria for an effective quality management system (QMS). The standard focuses on process-oriented approaches to ensure consistent quality and customer satisfaction. It applies to all organizations, regardless of size, industry or business sector. In order to achieve ISO 9001 certification, an organization must establish, document, implement, and maintain a quality management system that meets all of the requirements of the standard.

ISO 9001 is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act model. The first step in the QMS is to create a plan that outlines how the organization intends to satisfy customer requirements. This plan should identify the required processes and resources needed to meet these requirements. The next step involves implementing the plan. This includes training employees, establishing control systems, and monitoring quality indicators. The third step involves checking the results of the implemented plan to make sure that the desired results have been achieved. Finally, the organization needs to conduct a review of the entire system and make any necessary changes to improve the system.

To be compliant with the ISO 9001 standard, an organization must establish quality objectives, define procedures, document all the processes, and track and measure performance against specified metrics. Additionally, the organization should ensure that its QMS is regularly reviewed and updated in order to stay up to date with changing customer requirements and industry standards.

Quality Management System Requirements of ISO 13485

The ISO 13485 is a standard for Quality Management Systems designed specifically for organizations involved in the design, production, installation and servicing of medical devices. This standard contains requirements to ensure that all medical devices meet safety, performance and regulatory requirements.

ISO 13485 requires organizations to adopt and maintain an effective quality management system based on a number of principles including documenting processes, managing resources, providing training, measuring results, maintaining traceability, and preserving customer feedback.

In addition to these seven principles, organizations must also satisfy the following requirements:

  • Establishing quality objectives
  • Developing and maintaining a documented Quality Management System (QMS) with written policies and procedures
  • Implementing procedures to ensure compliance with the established QMS
  • Designing and developing products with due consideration to safety
  • Developing product verification and validation practices
  • Performing risk management activities
  • Developing a system for documenting customer satisfaction
  • Monitoring and measuring the product’s characteristics
  • Maintaining product traceability
  • Providing corrective and preventive action plans
  • Establishing a system for auditing and evaluating the QMS

These strict requirements ensure that medical devices are safe and effective. Organizations must adhere to the ISO 13485 standard in order to gain certification and maintain a competitive advantage.

Design and development Requirements for Medical Devices

When designing and developing medical devices, it is important to understand the requirements laid out in both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485. In order to create a product that meets quality standards, medical device manufacturers must comply with the guidelines set by both standards.

ISO 9001:2015 outlines the fundamental requirements for a Quality Management System (QMS). This standard requires that organizations have a documented quality policy, that they implement procedures to produce consistent products, and that they continually strive to improve. It also encourages manufacturers to use risk-based approaches when evaluating their processes.

The International Standard ISO 13485:2016 “Medical devices – Quality management systems – Requirements for regulatory purposes” provides additional guidance related to the manufacturing of medical devices. This standard is based on ISO 9001 but has additional requirements to address the unique risks and challenges associated with medical device development. These include ensuring that quality systems are suited to the specific product, providing assurance of the effectiveness of the QMS through an audit process, and validating customer requirements.

Organizations must ensure that the design and development activities are planned and controlled in accordance with ISO 13485. This includes establishing clear QMS documentation that outlines objectives, processes, and responsibilities for design and development activities. Each process should be validated to ensure that it meets specified requirements and that any changes are properly assessed for their potential impact.

In addition, organizations should ensure there is a system in place to manage design and development changes, including the analysis of risk associated with any change. Documentation of all design and development activities should also be protected from inappropriate revision and controlled distribution.

Document Control Requirements of ISO 9001 vs. ISO 13485

ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 both focus on quality management and have specific document control requirements that need to be met. Document control is an important element of any quality system, as it ensures that the necessary documents are accurate, up-to-date, and easily accessible.

Under ISO 9001, organizations must establish procedures for the identification, documentation, review, approval, distribution, and revision of all documents related to the quality management system.

ISO 13485 has more rigorous document control requirements, since the standard was designed specifically to address the legal and regulatory requirements of medical device manufacturers. ISO 13485 requires organizations to establish procedures to ensure that all documents related to the quality management system are up-to-date, approved, and properly indexed and stored.

Organizations must also track the revision of documents, as well as the document’s usage, such as which personnel can access them. ISO 13485 also requires organizations to establish procedures for ensuring that any obsolete documents that are no longer applicable are marked as such and removed from circulation.

The document control requirements of ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 recognize the importance of having accurate and timely documents within the organization. These requirements help to ensure that the quality management system is effectively managed and that the organization meets all the necessary requirements for producing safe and effective medical devices.

Purchasing Requirements of ISO 9001 vs. ISO 13485

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the quality standards for a variety of organizations, including medical device manufacturers. ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 are two standards that can be used for medical devices, and it is important to understand the key differences in order to ensure that they are met.

ISO 9001 outlines requirements related to purchasing, including only sourcing materials from suppliers who can meet the organization’s standards, and developing the necessary documents and procedures to monitor suppliers. ISO 13485, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on assessing and ensuring the quality of purchased products through supplier evaluations and audits.

Under ISO 13485, organizations must develop procedures for determining that incoming materials meet quality requirements. This includes a traceability system to ensure that the proper materials are used in the manufacture of medical devices. Additionally, organizations must also have processes in place to handle suspected nonconforming materials, and to assess the risk posed by them.

Organizations must also have a system in place to continuously monitor suppliers and assess their performance. This includes review of records such as complaint reports and regular audits of supplier capability. The organization must also document any changes to the supplier’s capabilities, and document any corrective or preventive actions taken as a result.

Before purchasing materials, ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 require organizations to obtain necessary approval from the customer. This ensures that all materials used in the manufacture of medical devices meet the customer’s standards and expectations. In addition, organizations must establish procedures for controlling and verifying the accuracy of purchased parts and materials before use.

By understanding the key differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, medical device manufacturers can ensure that they have the necessary processes and procedures in place to meet the requirements of both standards.

Internal Audit Requirements of ISO 9001 and ISO 13485

Both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 require an internal audit of the quality management system. This is a process where the organization looks at every part of the quality system to ensure that it conforms to the standards. These audits are also used to identify opportunities for improvement.

ISO 9001 requires organizations to carry out internal audits regularly, at least once a year. It also requires that the organization develops an audit program, which outlines how often each process needs to be audited and who is responsible for carrying out the auditing.

ISO 13485 requires that the scope, frequency, and methods of the audit are defined in the quality management system. Moreover, it states that audits need to cover all processes, procedures, and activities that can affect the conformity of products. The standard also provides guidance on the selection of auditors and their qualifications.

For both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, organizations must document the results of the audit and track any corrective actions that are taken as a result. Internal audits are an important part of both quality management systems and should be conducted in a timely manner to ensure that issues are identified and addressed.

Nonconformity and corrective action requirements for ISO 9001 and ISO 13485

When nonconformity is discovered in a product or process, it is important to correct the issue and prevent it from happening again. But the nonconformity and corrective action requirements of ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 are different.

  • ISO 9001 requires that an organization has a documented procedure for handling nonconformities and defining corrective actions. The aim is to identify the root cause of the nonconformity and take the necessary steps to prevent recurrence.
  • ISO 13485 requires that an organization identifies, investigates, and records any nonconformities, as well as defines a corrective action plan. However, the focus of this standard is to assess the risk related to the nonconformity and determine whether or not the medical device can be released for sale.

ISO 9001 focuses on preventive actions while ISO 13485 focuses on containment actions, ensuring that the quality of the medical device is maintained. Organizations must also monitor the effectiveness of the corrective and preventive actions taken.

For more complex issues, both standards require organizations to launch an independent investigation to determine the root cause of the nonconformity and define long-term corrective and preventive action plans. Additionally, records of all nonconformities and their solutions must be maintained according to the standards.

The ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 standards define the requirements for a quality management system. While both provide the fundamentals for managing quality, ISO 13485 is specifically tailored to the medical device industry. It expands upon the requirements of ISO 9001, and adds additional focus and requirements for medical device manufacturers.

By understanding the key differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, medical device manufacturers can effectively identify where and how these standards overlap and complement each other. This guide has reviewed both standards and identified the quality management system, design and development, document control, purchasing, internal audit, nonconformity and corrective action requirements that are unique or different for each standard.

ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 can help to ensure that all medical device manufacturers are able to consistently manufacture products or services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. Implementing and maintaining an effective quality management system that complies with ISO 9001 and/or ISO 13485 is of paramount importance for medical device manufacturers, and the benefits should not be underestimated.


To thoroughly understand the key differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 for medical devices, it is essential to refer to the appropriate international standards documents. The standards documents referenced within this guide are:

  • ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management Systems – Requirements
  • ISO 13485:2016 – Medical Devices – Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Regulatory Purposes

Additional information about ISO can be found on the ISO website here.


ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 are international standards for Quality Management Systems (QMS). The origins of ISO 9001 can be traced back to the start of the 20th century with the rise of mass production, while ISO 13485 was developed in 2003 specifically for medical device manufacturers. It is important to understand the key differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 for medical devices to ensure compliance.

ISO 9001 is for Quality Management Systems that provides organizations with the tools to satisfy demands from customers for products and services that meet customer requirements and comply with regulatory requests to demonstrate adequate service control and uniform quality. The standard requires a process-based approach for designing, implementing, and improving processes to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.

ISO 13485 is a quality management system specifically designed to meet the needs of medical device manufacturers. It provides additional manufacturing and quality assurance requirements in addition to ISO 9001 fundamental principles, enabling businesses to produce safe and reliable medical devices, as well as helping them access markets regulated by the applicable laws.

The requirements of ISO 9001 are organized into seven core elements: scope; leadership; planning; support; operation; performance evaluation; and improvement. Each element contains the requirements that an organization must fulfill to be certified against ISO 9001. These elements combine to form the Quality Management System necessary to service customer needs.

The requirements of ISO 13485 are structured and organized into seven core elements: scope statement; control of documents; control of records; internal audit; risk management; corrective actions; and medical device-specific requirements. Additionally, ISO 13485 requires documentation and additionally validation requirements for medical device manufacturers, such as management reviews, in order to maintain stakeholder satisfaction.

Design and development requirements for medical devices include project initiation, design planning and inputs, design outputs, verification, validation, product release, design transfer, and design changes.During the development process, medical device manufacturers must ensure that their designs conform to all regulatory requirements, and test their products in the intended environment prior testing on human subjects.

The document control requirements of both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 are relatively similar, but ISO 13485 has additional requirements that should be considered. ISO 13485 requires device manufacturers to identify, develop, and maintain complete and accurate records of design documentation throughout the entire design and development processes, whereas ISO 9001 does not.