Many people struggle with sleep apnea and other serious problems. These issues are especially common among World Trade Center survivors. For all these people who were desperate for a good night’s sleep, the Philips Respironics Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Breathing Machine probably seemed like the perfect solution. However, it’s now apparent that this device is just the latest item in a very long line of defective consumer products.
Companies like Philips are firmly committed to their profits. At Napoli Shkolnik, we are firmly committed to upholding the legal and financial rights of injury victims. Philips and other large, multinational corporations have armies of lawyers at their beck and call. But these resources do not intimidate our product liability attorneys.
About the CPAP Sleep Masks
If you have sleep apnea, your airway closes while you sleep. Snoring is the mildest form of sleep apnea. That’s the sound people make as they try to breathe. In more extreme cases, many sleep apnea victims wake up gasping for air throughout the night. As a result, they essentially nap all night. Since they get no deep, restorative sleep, they begin the next day fatigued, and the fatigue just gets worse.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines gently pump enough air into the body to keep the airway open. Most CPAP machines have several settings and mask options. Some people need more air pressure than others if they are to breathe normally at night. Furthermore, not all masks are comfortable for all people.
Air pumps, fans, air conditioners, and other such items are noisy, especially if you are next to them all night. To reduce this noise, Philips Respironics Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Breathing Machines include a noise-reducing polyurethane foam. The company included this foam as a comfort issue. Instead, it became a serious health and safety issue.
Polyurethane foam is a very common consumer product additive. According to one estimate, American manufacturers add about 1.7 billion pounds of this foam to their products every year. Although polyurethane is highly dangerous, as long as this foam stays in one piece, it’s usually safe.
However, the constant vibration of a CPAP machine causes this foam to break up. That releases tiny dust particles into the gadget’s air hose.
Any concentration of polyurethane dust could cause serious health problems. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) states that three milligrams of dust per cubic meter, which is the rough equivalent of a few grains of sugar in a cup of coffee, could cause:
- Breathing Problems: Many of the lung’s bronchial tubes are extremely narrow. Any particulate matter, such as polyurethane foam dust, could clog these passages. This blockage creates issues similar to Constrictive Bronchiolitis, a very serious breathing disorder that’s common in burn pit exposure victims.
- Lung Disease: Isocyanates are an essential component of polyurethane foam. As mentioned, as long as the foam remains intact, Isocyanates are not dangerous. But if they break off, they cause chest tightness and severe membrane irritation. Moreover, Isocyanates particles contain several known carcinogens.
If you have used a Philips Respironics Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Breathing Machine, there is a strong chance that your lungs may have already been damaged.
There are several types of product defect injury claims. Defective CPAP breathing machines could fall into any of these categories.
These gadgets may have been defectively designed. Engineers may not have fully accounted for machine vibration and its effects on polyurethane foam. It is fairly easy to add a thin, protective layer to foam, so no dust particles enter the air pump. But these precautions are also expensive.
A manufacturing defect is possible as well. There are many different grades of polyurethane foam. Instead of using the safest and most reliable components, many manufacturers choose the cheapest components.
In any event, Philips failed to warn customers about the elevated risk. In failure to warn claims, our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys need not conclusively prove that the product was defective. They must only show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the company knew about the elevated risk of toxic dust inhalation and did not share this information with consumers.
The Product Misuse Defense
Although this product recall is in its very early stages, company lawyers are already preparing their defense. In a statement, the company said that “use of unapproved cleaning methods...may also contribute to foam degradation.”
Such product misuse could be a defense to product liability claims in court.
However, in most cases, product misuse is only a defense if the misuse was unforeseeable. Falling off the top rung of a ladder is a good example. Most ladders have labels which warn customers of the danger. Yet almost inevitably, someone will step on the top rung and fall. Since this minus is foreseeable, it’s not a defense.
Damages in a defective product/failure to warn claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are usually available as well. Unless jurors award these additional damages, companies like Philips will not change the way they do business.
List of Affected Devices
The manufacturer has advised customers with any of the following devices to stop using them immediately.
- Dreamstation ASV
- Dreamstation ST, AVAPS
- SystemOne ASV4
- C Series ASV, S/T, AVAPS
- OmniLab Advanced Plus
- SystemOne Q Series
- A-Series BiPap Hybrid A30
- A-Series BiPap V30 Auto
- Dreamstation CPAP, Auto CPAP, biPap
- Dreamstation GO
- Dorma 400, 500
- REMSTAR SE Auto
- Trilogy 100, 200
- Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent
Generally, people who bought a defective Philips CPAP Breathing Machine are entitled to repair, replacement, or refund.
If you or a loved one used/owned any Philips Respironics CPAP on this list and are experiencing any breathing problems, contact the tenacious defective medical device attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for a free consultation.