Patient Safety Demands Carve-Outs in Right-to-Repair Laws

June 27, 2023

By Steve Pociask, President of the American Consumer Institute | DC Journal

Medical devices are intricate and sensitive machines that require precision and expert training to conduct necessary repairs. While consumer benefits from the right-to-repair movement are clear with some items, like replacing the glass cover on a cell phone or fixing a household appliance, applying these principles to medical devices and other complicated hospital equipment is a much different story.

Fundamentally, not all products are equal.

The stakes are low if you try to fix your phone screen or tablet and fail. But what happens when the devices needing fixing are precision instruments used to diagnose and operate on you or a loved one? The consequences of a repair gone wrong could be severe.

This distinction showcases why right-to-repair laws should consider product categories on a case-by-case basis. Fortunately, states like New York and Minnesota purposefully defined the scope of their bills to ensure medical devices were left in the hands of trained repair experts. These legislators recognized that legislation — either state or federal — that gives broad access to untrained, third-party servicers could undermine the quality and safety standards that patients and medical professionals rely on to ensure patient safety.

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