Right-to-Repair Laws Could Threaten Healthcare Safety

When a smartphone, computer, router, GPS, or any of the connected devices we use in our day-to-day lives malfunctions, there are frustrations. Maybe some family photos are lost or that time spent preparing an important presentation is squandered. Headaches, certainly, but usually minor ones.

But when a patient goes under the scalpel in an operating room, there is an expectation—a trust—that the necessary equipment will work as it should. It’s often a matter of life or death.

The presumption that medical devices will operate properly is fundamental. Like any modern technology, such important and finely calibrated equipment requires regular preventative maintenance and repair. It’s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that’s responsible for ensuring the safety, effectiveness, and quality of medical devices. And as the agency notes, “proper servicing is critical to their continued safe and effective use.”

On the surface, the idea behind right to repair seems innocuous enough. Policymakers want to require electronics manufacturers to make proprietary parts and schematics public, so they don’t have a monopoly on repairs. Consumers, in theory, would enjoy lower costs not having to take a broken phone, laptop, or tablet to the original manufacturer for repairs.

While this rationale may work for personal-use technologies, it doesn’t hold water when it comes to medical devices such as defibrillators, CAT Scans and MRI machines. Even a minor mistake, miscalculation or service error can result in catastrophic results – including the death of a patient. To make matters worse, in our increasingly interconnected world, a simple coding error could expose personal data to hackers. No patient or physician should have to worry about these dystopian scenarios.

Read the full piece at MedCity News.