Technical Articles

What is the Classification of IEC 60601?

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is responsible for establishing standards in various fields, including medical devices. One important standard in the healthcare industry is IEC 60601, which focuses on the safety and performance requirements of medical electrical equipment. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the classification system outlined in IEC 60601.

Classifications in IEC 60601

IEC 60601 categorizes medical electrical equipment into three classes based on potential risks to patients and operators:

Class I

This class includes equipment with basic insulation and relies on protective grounding for safety. Class I devices have a higher risk of electric shock and require additional precautions, such as connection to grounded outlets. Examples of Class I devices are surgical lasers and X-ray machines.

Class II

Class II devices have double or reinforced insulation and do not rely on grounding. They provide an extra layer of protection against electric shock. Class II equipment often has non-patient-contact surfaces made of insulating materials. Common examples include infusion pumps and ultrasound machines.

Class III

Class III devices are the safest class as they rely on low-voltage supplies and extra-low voltage circuits. These devices feature built-in safety measures to eliminate the risk of electric shock. Class III equipment is typically used for diagnostic purposes, such as ECG machines and EEG monitors.

Impact of Classification

The classification of medical electrical equipment according to IEC 60601 plays a crucial role in ensuring patient and operator safety. It helps medical practitioners select the appropriate equipment for specific procedures based on the associated risks. Moreover, manufacturers must adhere to the relevant standards and undergo rigorous testing and certification processes to ensure compliance.


IEC 60601 provides a comprehensive classification system for medical electrical equipment, categorizing devices into Classes I, II, and III based on their potential risks. This standard ensures that necessary safety measures are implemented in the design and operation of medical devices, promoting the well-being of patients and healthcare professionals alike.



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