“People aiming to work in the 3D printing industry should strive to think outside the box given all of the legal and regulatory unknowns with 3D printing. This mindset is critical to exploring ways to shape the law and regulations to promote innovation in healthcare in an ethical manner.”

Ms. Farah Tabibkhoei Interview Series

As a senior associate in Reed Smith’s Complex Litigation Group, Farah Tabibkhoei’spractice focuses on product liability, managed care, creditors’ rights, and 3D printing. As a 3D printing enthusiast and member of Reed Smith’s cross-disciplinary 3D Printing Team, she closely monitors the complex legal and regulatory issues arising from additive manufacturing, affecting clients across a wide range of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to automotive, to identify risk, develop risk management strategies, and effectively problem solve. Ms. Tabibkhoei has been an invaluable contributor to the 3DHEALS legal blog. You can see some of her writings here. She will also be a speaker at 3DHEALS2017

.Q: What is your vision on the intersection of 3D Printing and healthcare?

A: 3D printing will vastly improve patient care by allowing surgeons to use 3D-printed surgical models for pre-surgical planning, thus reducing time in the operating room. 3D printing will also enhance patient education because it will help physicians explain medical conditions and treatment options to their patients by using 3D models, which will facilitate informed treatment decisions.

Q: What do you specialize in? What is your passion?

A: I am a senior associate in Reed Smith’s Complex Litigation Group and a member of the firm’s 3D Printing Task Force with a focus on medical device product liability, 3D printing, and managed care. My passion is high-stakes litigation and exploring the ways new technologies such as 3D printing shapes the law.

Q: What inspired you to do what you do?

A: I became inspired to expand my practice to 3D printing after watching Dr. Anthony Atala’s TED talk on printing a human kidney. It became clear to me that 3D printing would not only transform medicine by creating customized, on-demand medical supplies and medications, but would also force traditional legal principles to change to keep up with the technology.

Q: What is the biggest potential impact you see 3D printing having on the healthcare industry?

A: The biggest potential impact 3D printing will have on the healthcare industry is improved access to healthcare in rural and poverty-stricken areas of the world where medical resources are scarce. 3D printing will allow greater and quicker access to more affordable and customized medical supplies and procedures for those in need.

Q: What challenges do you see arising in implementing 3D printing in healthcare sector in the next 5 years?

A: Challenges in the 3D printing healthcare sector will include widespread adoption of 3D printing among physicians, costs associated with training personnel on how to use 3D printing, and getting health plans to provide reimbursement for 3D printing procedures and/or devices because the risks are relatively new and unknown.

Q: What is the best business lesson you have learned?

A: Do what you love and the money will follow.

Q: What is the biggest business risk you have taken?

A: The biggest business risk I have taken is going to law school.

Q: What crucial skill should people aiming to work in this industry acquire?

A: People aiming to work in the 3D printing industry should strive to think outside the box given all of the legal and regulatory unknowns with 3D printing. This mindset is critical to exploring ways to shape the law and regulations to promote innovation in healthcare in an ethical manner.

Q: How will accessibility of the technology affect the cost of procedures?

A: The costs of procedures will depend, in large part, on whether health plans will reimburse doctors and hospitals for these procedures. There needs to be more funding for 3D printing research and development in the medical field to prove its safety and efficacy compared with traditional medical procedures. Additionally, widespread adoption of the technology among clinicians will help lead to greater reimbursement of these procedures and lower costs.

Q: Where do you get the training required to make informed decisions?

A: I read and learn about the latest developments in 3D printing through industry and legal experts including a talented and cross-disciplinary team of attorneys (insurance, environmental, IP, to name a few) within my firm who are similarly vested in the future of 3D printing.

Q: How will 3D printing impact product liability?

A: 3D printing raises new and unanswered legal questions with respect to product liability including what is a product, who is a manufacturer, and where does liability fall when a 3D printed product is found to be defective? Does the strict liability doctrine apply to 3D printing or are we left with negligence?