Sleep apnea is a common affliction for residents of Maryland and Virginia, as well as residents of the other 48 states. The ailment interferes with breathing during sleep; one of its most common and annoying symptoms is loud snoring. A widely prevalent cure for sleep apnea is the use of a continuously pressurized air passageway (CPAP) machine. A prominent manufacturer of these machines recently announced a recall of its CPAP machines, leaving over 4 million people searching for a substitute – and worrying about hoe the defect may affect them.
Phillips, a large manufacturer of medical equipment, announced the recall of its DreamStation CPAP in June of this year. The recall was triggered by the discovery of a defect in the CPAP that could threaten the health of users. The defect concerned the nature of the material used to provide sound abatement inside the CPAP machine. Testing by Philips showed that the foam used to provide sound abatement often degraded into small particles that entered the breath passageway. The small particles could easily be swallowed, and the foam could release harmful chemicals into the user’s airway.
When users of the DreamStation CPAP learned of the recall, they were very concerned. They faced the double problem of losing a valuable medical device and facing the possibility of adverse medical effects. Philips has said that it has received a “limited number” of reports of possible patient impact, but it has not announced a replacement for the DreamStation. Philips said that it had begun a “comprehensive communication program” to reach out to uses, but many such users denied receiving any notice from Philips.
The class action
Not surprisingly, several thousand users of the DreamStation have joined in two class actions against Philips. One of the lawyers for one of the classes said that the machine has caused “significant lung injuries” caused by the DreamStation. Philips has promised to create a repair and replacement program for users, but the program must first be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Anyone who is concerned about suffering an injury caused by a DreamStation may wish to consult an experienced product liability attorney about joining one of the existing classes of plaintiffs or commencing a new class action.