It is common for FDA and others to show a map of the United States with the states color-coded by intensity to showcase the total number of inspections done in that state. Indeed, FDA includes such a map in its newly released dashboard for FDA inspections. In reviewing that map with the U.S. map color-coded to reflect where medical device establishments are located, do you notice anything? Not to destroy the suspense for you, but it turns out that FDA tends to inspect where medical device inspection facilities are located. Really.
We wanted to get beneath those numbers in two ways. First, it’s much more informative to look at the data at a county level because there’s actually quite a bit of variation county by county. Second, and more importantly, we wanted to normalize the inspection data by the number of facilities. In other words, by looking at inspections per facility, we can get a better sense of the inspection frequency in each county.