In right to repair debate, medical devices must be protected

By Jonathan Ellen, M.D., M.S., pediatrician, epidemiologist and former CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital | Tampa Bay Times

By allowing increased access to medical equipment by untrained or uncertified individuals, hospitals and health care institutions forfeit the manufacturers’ warranties about the dependability and trustworthiness of their products for unknown outcomes.

Expanding the “right to repair” to medical devices would also increase the liability on providers and hospitals at a time when those costs have never been higher. With medical malpractice tacking on between $50 billion and $150 billion to health care costs annually, policies that could expose our hospitals to greater risk of equipment malfunction will only increase bills for patients and insurers further. A very real risk, especially considering independent servicers are not required to report any adverse events to regulators, meaning our understanding of their impacts on these products is virtually zero.

That’s why, as policymakers examine policy solutions to nurture competition across our economy, lawmakers and regulators must differentiate between common consumer goods, like tractors and air conditioners, versus highly specialized “mission critical” devices, like MRI scanners or robotic surgical machines.

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