NC biomedical repairers call on legislature to pass medical Right to Repair bill

Media Contacts
Katie Craig

Former State Director, NCPIRG

For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 20, 2023 

Raleigh, N.C. — 79 North Carolina clinical engineers and biomedical repair technicians, commonly known as biomeds, from across the state sent a letter to legislators today calling for the passage of legislation to end harmful repair restrictions. The letter comes just days after North Carolina state Rep. Mary Belk, along with Rep. Becky Carney,  Rep. Carla Cunningham, and Rep. John Autry introduced the Medical Equipment Right to Repair Act, H752, on Tuesday.  

Many manufacturers of medical devices routinely restrict access to repairs and refuse to provide hospital biomeds with what they need to fix critical machines, including imaging equipment such as MRI machines, and the linear accelerators used to deliver radiation therapy to cancer patients. This means that on-site biomeds, who could assess the equipment and make the repairs right away, often have to wait hours to weeks for a manufacturer technician to travel to the hospital and pay higher prices for repairs when they get there. That can cost hospitals and patients alike.

“Being able to quickly fix medical equipment can be the difference between life and death,” said Katie Craig, state director of NCPIRG, a statewide public interest advocacy group. “It’s common sense that hospital technicians should have access to the tools, parts, and information they need to fix machines when they break. Repair restrictions cost hospitals money and cost patients precious time. It’s time we pass legislation to give hospitals the Right to Repair.” 

If passed, H752 would ensure that hospital biomeds and the independent service organizations they hire to repair their equipment would have full access to the repair materials that they need to fix life-saving radiotherapy and diagnostic equipment. 

Hospitals and Community Clinics across North Carolina should have the right to decide the best way to keep their equipment running, rather than be forced to pay whatever price the manufacturer decrees,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mary Belk. “Too often these days, companies treat purchases like leases and expect to fleece their customers at regular intervals, or just make repairs so expensive, the customer has to buy a new one. Right to Repair legislation requires manufacturers to respect customers and give them enough information about products to fix them when they break.”

Over two thirds of the 79 biomeds and technicians said they personally have experienced an occasion where repair restrictions limited their ability to do their job and put patient safety at risk. 

“Presently, significant restrictions hinder Independent Service Organizations and in-house service engineers from fully utilizing their training. These obstacles, which include limited access to service software, documentation, training, and parts availability, greatly impact the uptime of vital life-saving equipment for patients,”  said Dustin Zimmerman, VP of Advanced Repair and Technical Solution at Avante Health Solutions, an independent repair organization headquartered in Concord, North Carolina. “This legislation will enable hospitals  to deliver the high-quality patient care that all North Carolinians deserve while simultaneously reducing healthcare expenses.”

Repair restrictions similar to those faced by biomeds are also faced by equipment owners of all types, including consumer electronics and farm equipment. This bill’s introduction makes North Carolina the 28th state to consider Right to Repair legislation this year and comes just one year after the state also debated Right to Repair for agricultural equipment