Right to Repair

Nearly 15,000 of our friends, family members, and neighbors in California have died because of the COVID-19 virus, and thousands more are currently in hospitals awaiting treatment and, hopefully, recovery. Hospitals and health-care workers have been heavily stressed caring for COVID-19 patients, and as the ongoing pandemic continues into flu season, medical professionals are concerned that hospitals and medical equipment will be stretched to the limit. It is perhaps more critical than ever that essential medical equipment, including ventilators, be available for the sickest patients, but sadly that’s often not the case.

To fix medical equipment quickly and not put lives at risk, hospital biomedical repair technicians (biomeds) must have access to the tools and information required for repair. Yet manufacturers of these devices often stand in the way by blocking access to manuals or making it difficult to read error logs or run diagnostic tests.

Thankfully, there is a solution to this crisis: the Critical Medical Infrastructure Right-to-Repair Act. This bill, recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, would remove manufacturer-imposed barriers to fixing medical equipment, including ventilators, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some ventilator manufacturers have already made it easier to access their repair manuals and other service information. Other manufacturers have no excuse to not follow suit, and this bill will ensure they do so.

Medical device manufacturers’ bottom line shouldn’t rise at the cost of patient safety — especially now, when COVID-19 is still spreading and posing a serious threat to public health. By removing manufacturers’ proprietary restrictions and relieving some of the stress on our hospitals, biomedical technicians will be able to repair essential devices, and save lives. Congress must approve the Critical Medical Infrastructure Right-to-Repair Act as soon as possible. Profit should never come before people.

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