Philips Respironics (Philips) is a leading manufacturer of CPAP and BiPAP machines to help individuals treat their sleep apnea. Philips also makes ventilators which are often used in the medical setting. Earlier this summer, they announced a recall of many of these devices due to the potential harm they could cause their users. Let’s take a quick look at the nature of this recall and the resulting litigation.
Why Is There a Recall?
A variety of ventilators, CPAP and BiPAP machines produced by Philips use polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. The purpose of this material is to reduce the sound and vibration from these devices. However, this foam may break down and injure the user. It’s suspected that high heat and humidity, or using ozone to clean the device, could make this problem worse.
What Are the Potential Injuries?
There are two potential types of injuries from the PE-PUR foam. First, the foam could fall apart into little bits that make their way into the air that the device pushes into the user’s lungs. Second, the foam could off-gas, or release harmful chemicals into the airflow from the device. Either of these events could result in the following injuries:
- Irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract
- Sinus infection
- Organ damage (such as to the kidneys and liver)
What Machines Make Up the Recall?
Philips has reported that roughly 80% of the machines being recalled are used to help individuals with sleep apnea. These include the following ventilators, BiPAP and CPAP machines:
- 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 and 500
- REMstar SE Auto
- Trilogy 100 and 200
- Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent
- A-Series BiPAP Hybrid A30 (not marketed in the United States)
- A-Series BiPAP V30 Auto
- A-Series BiPAP A30 and A40
Philips CEO stated that about three to four million machines are affected by the recall and it could take a year to fully repair or replace the affected machines.
What Should I Do If I’m Using One of These Machines?
You should stop using the machine and immediately talk to your healthcare provider. Depending on your medical issue and your ability to find an alternative treatment or device, it’s possible that your doctor could recommend you continue using the recalled device.
You should also consider registering your recalled device with Philips. This will allow you to get the most current information regarding the status of your machine’s recall and any relevant updates from Philips.
Could I Take Part in a Lawsuit Against Philips?
If you used one of the affected devices then yes, you may have a legal claim against Philips. What you could potentially recover and how you do it will largely depend on the nature and extent of your injuries.
If you only suffered financial injuries, your damages might be limited to your out-of-pocket costs and medical monitoring (future preventative care expenses you’ll have to pay to make sure your use of the Philips device didn’t make you sick).
But if you have physical injuries then your damage could be far higher, especially if they’ve been seriously hurt. For instance, if the PE-PUR foam gave you terminal cancer, your legal recovery will likely be far higher than if you suffered a minor headache for a few weeks.
As for how you might obtain your legal recovery, there are two likely scenarios. First, you take part in a class-action lawsuit. You’re more likely to join this type of lawsuit if you’re only suing due to limited financial injuries.
Second, there’s multi-district litigation or an MDL. This is where you file your own lawsuit, but due to similarities to so many other cases, your case gets consolidated. This merging of cases will only last for pre-trial matters, like discovery. Being part of an MDL is more likely if you’re seeking compensation for physical injuries.
Many affected users have already filed lawsuits against Philips. There’s at least one class-action lawsuit and dozens of individual cases. Philips has already asked for many of these cases to get consolidated into an MDL. The court is currently in the process of deciding this issue.
If you or someone close to you is affected by this recall, or you have additional questions, please call me at 919.546.8788. If you’re not ready to talk to a lawyer, you can get more information about what’s going on from the FDA’s Safety Communication and Philip’s recall notification.