Patent reform could impact healthcare field

To the Editor:

I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss the potential impacts of proposed wide sweeping federal patent reforms on our nation's healthcare field and the ability of our doctors and nurses to continue to raise the bar in terms of care.

I have worked as a labor and delivery nurse in Vermont for nearly 40 years and have seen countless technical improvements and equipment innovations come through the healthcare field that have enabled us to better serve our patients, and in some cases, effectively provide life-saving care in the most critical of times.

I am thankful for the technology and equipment we have been afforded over the years and know well that these tools were only made possible through extensive research and design by various companies, as well as a robust and proven patent system in the United States that has supported and promoted the very innovations that we've relied on to deliver both basic and emergency patient care.

That being said, I am concerned that major changes being discussed by our political leaders in Washington could upset our current, successful patent system and impact the ability for us as healthcare providers to continually access the most advanced tools and technology and ultimately improve our care - care that can often mean the difference between life and death. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy holds a key spot in the patent reform discussion in that he is the Senate's most senior member and is also chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Anything that is ultimately approved by Congress must pass through his committee. His position provides Vermonters a unique opportunity to bring their desires and concerns around patent reform right to the top of the food chain.

There has been much talk lately about the need for patent system changes to combat fraudulent patent infringement claims that are currently creating problems for companies big and small both here in Vermont and across the United States.

So, while there is no doubt that such changes may serve as a step forward for our patent system and are needed to help protect many of our businesses from unwarranted lawsuits, I urge Senator Leahy and his associates to take their time and consider all of the far-reaching impacts of major changes to a patent system that has for years been so crucial in spawning the innovation that is so vital for us in providing quality healthcare to our patients.

Carol Adams



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