What is a CPAP Machine?
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is most commonly used to treat sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can interrupt or stop breathing during sleep, contributing to many other possible health issues. Some of the most common effects of sleep apnea include being tired and having trouble concentrating during the day, headaches, mood changes and high blood pressure. Serious sleep apnea can increase the risk of cardiac conditions, including heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and irregular heart rhythms.
CPAP machines are a popular way to treat sleep apnea. Oxygenated air is pushed through a flexible tube into a mask worn during sleep. The continuous pressure of the air flow pushes against any obstructions, preventing interruptions in breathing. Two other devices, known as automatic positive airflow pressure (APAP) and bi-level positive airflow pressure (BiPAP) provide similar relief through modified systems of air flow.
What’s Wrong with the Philips CPAP Machine?
In June of 2021, the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert to consumers using several types of Philips Respironics CPAP machines, BiPAP machines, and ventilators. The company had voluntarily recalled the following devices, manufactured between 2009 and April 26, 2021:
- DreamStation ASV
- DreamStation ST, AVAPS
- SystemOne ASV4
- C-Series ASV
- C-Series S/T and AVAPS
- OmniLab Advanced+
- SystemOne (Q-Series)
- DreamStation Go
- Dorma 400
- Dorma 500
- REMstar SE Auto
- Trilogy 100
- Trilogy 200
- Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent
- A-Series BiPAP Hybrid A30
- A-Series BiPAP V30 Auto
- A-Series BiPap A40
- A-Series BiPap A30
These devices were recalled after it was revealed that a polyester-based polyurethane foam (PE-PUR) used to reduce sound and vibration in the listed devices could break down and be inhaled or swallowed by the user.
How Can You Tell if You’ve Been Exposed to Toxins through Your CPAP Machine?
In some cases, the breakdown of the sound reducing foam has produced visible black debris in the air pathway. According to the FDA, Philips Respironics also received complaints of headaches, irritation of the upper airway, coughing, pressure in the chest, and sinus infections, which may be related to the issue.
Many more serious risks have also been potentially associated with this exposure.
Cancers Potentially Associated with PE-PUR Exposure
Chemical and debris exposure related to faulty CPAP devices and other related devices has potentially been associated with several types of cancer, including:
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Blood cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Lymphatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Nasal cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Papillary carcinoma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Other Possible Associated Health Risks
Many other serious health conditions may be associated with CPAP machines and other respiratory equipment breaking down the sound-reducing foam and circulating debris or exposing the user to chemical inhalation. These include:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Reactive airway disease (RAD)
- Kidney damage or disease
- Liver damage or disease
- Pleural effusion
- Respiratory failure
- Heart failure
How Many People Have Been Affected by Faulty CPAP Devices?
Information is still emerging about the types of harm the defective CPAP, BiPAP, PAP and ventilator devices may have caused, and the number of people impacted. Millions of devices manufactured and sold across a 12-year period have been recalled. Since those relying on these devices have only recently had reason to connect a wide range of possible symptoms, diseases and conditions to device use, it is difficult to predict how many claims will ultimately be filed. Sufficient numbers are expected that the federal cases have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL).
CPAP Multidistrict Litigation
In early October, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined that federal product liability claims involving Philips CPAP, BiPAP, PAP and mechanical ventilators should be consolidated into MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The court also included personal injury claims relating to the same devices in the consolidated action. As of mid-November, there were 127 cases pending in the MDL. So far, that’s a relatively small MDL. For instance, as of the same date the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder MDL included 37,153 cases and the 3M earplug MDL included 272,416 claims. But, the CPAP MDL is very new and the number of claims is expected to increase significantly.
How Does MDL Work?
MDL combines some of the efficiency associated with a class action and the ability to assert specific damages plaintiffs enjoy in an individual lawsuit. Certain issues that impact all or most cases are decided together, so the court can address a large number of claims more quickly and easily. But, when the preliminary common issues have been decided, the cases are tried individually.
The initial trials are carefully selected to allow the court, plaintiffs, and defendants to gather information about how juries will respond to the cases and what type of verdicts can be expected. Decisions in these early cases give everyone involved a clearer idea of the potential value of the claims, often leading to quicker settlement of many cases.
What Should I Do If I Use a Listed CPAP Machine or Other Device?
Your first step should always be to consult your doctor. Your doctor may recommend that you stop using the device immediately, that you substitute another or that you substitute other treatments. It’s important to make any decisions about how to proceed with the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.
You should also register your device at the recall website to ensure that you receive the most up-to-date information about the recall and possible repairs to or replacement of your device.
Talk to a CPAP Product Liability Lawyer
If you have used one of the listed devices and have suffered symptoms listed above or been diagnosed with one of the conditions listed above, you should also speak with a CPAP litigation attorney.
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There’s been a lot of activity around Philips Respironics CPAP machines and related devices such as BiPAP machines and ventilators in 2021. First, the company voluntarily recalled many models, citing concerns about the breakdown of a polyester-based foam used to...
In September, Philips announced a repair and replace program for CPAP machines and other devices included in the June 2021 recall. The devices were recalled over concerns that foam material used to reduce sound and vibrations could break down and enter the airway...