Remove barriers to fixing ventilators

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We are confronting a hard reality: U.S. hospitals do not have enough ventilators to meet the spike in respiratory failure that the novel coronavirus is projected to create.

As ventilators are pressed into round-the-clock use, repair and maintenance issues will increase. While some ventilator manufacturers provide the service information that biomedical technicians need, other manufacturers make it hard to access manuals, read error logs or run diagnostic tests. We need to remove those barriers now.

Add your name: Manufacturers must release the service information hospitals need to fix and maintain our vitally important ventilators.

Hospitals in the United States don’t possess enough ventilators to meet the demand that COVID-19 is expected to create -- a reality that could have dire consequences for patients who will need these devices to breathe.

As global demand for ventilators spikes, as manufacturers face heavy backlogs, and as factories are compelled to stop selling internationally, it will be nearly impossible to get enough ventilators into U.S. hospitals in time to meet the onslaught of critical cases. We’ll need to press older models into service that hospitals keep in store for emergency purposes.

There are nearly 100,000 older ventilators around the United States -- but some will need repairs and maintenance, and that will require access to service information.

Join us in calling on manufacturers to release the vital service information hospitals need to service and maintain all viable ventilators in the United States.

Medical device manufacturers and trade associations actively lobby against Right to Repair reforms, which would mandate access to repair information and service software.

While some manufacturers provide access to what technicians need, others do not provide full access to service information for their ventilators. On one independent online repository for ventilator service information, the message "Download prohibited by Dräger. Support is not desired" appears next to the deactivated links to service manuals, instructions and technical documentation for Dräger ventilators.

Qualified repair technicians need access to manuals and other critical information to keep hospitals’ emergency ventilators up and running.

Manufacturers claim that repairs done by independent technicians are not as safe or reliable as those done by the manufacturers’ technicians. The data says otherwise. An extensive 2018 study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration investigating repair and maintenance issues found that independent technicians, hospital technicians and manufacturers all “provide high quality, safe and effective servicing of medical devices.”

Qualified hospital and independent technicians must have access to the proper information during this public health crisis. Tell ventilator manufacturers to free up service information, including repair manuals.

Thank you,

U.S. PIRG 


1. Sarah Kliff, Adam Satariano, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nicholas Kulish, “There Aren’t Enough Ventilators to Cope With the Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020.

2. Jason Koebler, “Hospitals Need to Repair Ventilators. Manufacturers Are Making That Impossible,” Vice, March 18, 2020. 

3. Sarah Kliff, Adam Satariano, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nicholas Kulish, “There Aren’t Enough Ventilators to Cope With the Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020. 

4.  Sarah Kliff, Adam Satariano, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nicholas Kulish, “There Aren’t Enough Ventilators to Cope With the Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020. 

5. “United States Resource Availability for COVID-19,” Society of Critical Care Medicine, revised March 19, 2020. 

6. “United States Resource Availability for COVID-19,” Society of Critical Care Medicine, revised March 19, 2020. 

7. Jonathan Cohn, “How To Get More Ventilators And What To Do If We Can’t,” Huffpost, March 17, 2020. 

8. “State Affairs -- 2018,” Advanced Medical Technology Association, accessed March 20, 2020.   

9. Jason Koebler, “Hospitals Need to Repair Ventilators. Manufacturers Are Making That Impossible,” Vice, March 18, 2020. 

10. “Ventilators Service Manuals,” Frank’s Hospital Workshop, accessed March 20, 2020.  

11. Jason Koebler, “Hospitals Need to Repair Ventilators. Manufacturers Are Making That Impossible,” Vice, March 18, 2020. 

12. “FDA Report on the Quality, Safety, and Effectiveness of Servicing of Medical Devices,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, May 2018.