CPAP Machine Injuries

October 15, 2021 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
CPAP Machine Injuries
CPAP Machine Injuries

Philips announced a voluntary recall of 3-4 million sleep apnea CPAP machines in June 2021. One month later, the FDA elevated the recall to a Class I — the most serious type — after logging more than 1,200 complaints involving over 100 customer injuries. Little is known about the exact nature of the CPAP machine injuries, as we are in the earliest stages of discovery and investigation. However, there has been emerging evidence suggesting that the damage may include both short-term and long-term effects and potentially fatal complications.

Contact Riddle & Brantley at 1-800-525-7111 if you have any questions about filing a Philips CPAP lawsuit to be included in Multi-District Litigation that is likely to form in the coming months. Initial consultations are always free, and you owe no attorney fee until we recover compensation on your behalf. Remember, we believe that Justice Counts.

IMPORTANT: As of June 2024, due to recent developments in the litigation, we can no longer accept Philips CPAP claims.

What's Causing CPAP Machine Injuries?

The Philips DreamStation and other first-generation CPAP machine masks were lined with black polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam for sound abatement purposes. On the one hand, these expensive rigid foams are stronger than polyether foams, displaying high tensile strength, corrosive gas resistance, and compatibility with fire-retardant additives.

However, after analyzing user reports and reviewing lab data, Philips also discovered a critical defect. PE-PUR foam is also susceptible to deterioration in damp, wet, and humid conditions. Whether due to record-high summer heatwaves or cleaning with ozone products, the foam was breaking down, causing particulates and gas to escape into the airway circuit tubing.

The second-generation models included polyester-based foams capable of providing softer, more comfortable cushioning that offers superior resistance to moisture, but that is little consolation to people who have trusted in Philips' CPAP machines for years.

What Is the Risk of Injury with Philips CPAP Machines, According to the Recall?

Injury risk with the Philips CPAP machines is two-fold:

  • Health problems from black foam particle debris inhalation and ingestion.
  • Health problems from chemical off-gassing, inhalation, and exposure.

Users may suffer from immediate, acute symptoms, as well as long-term chronic sicknesses, potentially including cancer.

Acute Toxic Foam Injuries from Inhalation or Ingestion of Particulate

Philips is aware of consumers finding black particles and debris within the air circuit extending from the device outlet, humidifier, tubing, and mask. This is often caused by cleaning the machine with ozone or UV light. The inhalation or ingestion of these tiny foam particles causes symptoms of exposure to toxic foam, such as:

  • Headache and Hypersensitivity
  • Upper Airway Irritation
  • Cough, Difficulty Breathing, and Chest Pressure
  • Heightened Risk of Sinus Infections
  • Nausea and Vomiting

Other potential long-term side effects of particulate exposure include:

  • Chronic Asthma Flare-ups
  • Eye, Skin, Nasal, and Respiratory Tract Irritation
  • Chronic Inflammatory Response
  • Kidney and Liver Damage
  • Toxic Carcinogenic Effects

As of late 2021, there have been no reports of deaths associated with these injuries as of yet.

Acute Off-Gassing Toxic Foam Injuries

The company has also noted the potential for chemical off-gassing, particularly when the machine is exposed to high temperatures and humidity. Its lab analysis of degrading foam detected several harmful chemicals, including:

  • Toluene Diamine – associated with cancer, genetic defects, skin irritation, organ damage, and infertility.
  • Toluene Diisocyanate – associated with cancer, respiratory irritation, eye damage, and skin issues.
  • Diethylene Glycol – found in antifreeze and braking fluid, associated with vomiting, coma, and death.
  • Dimethyl Diazene – associated with dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Phenol – associated with weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, and liver/kidney damage.

While the amounts detected exceeded the safe exposure threshold, the company has not received health reports tied directly to chemical exposure as of June 2021. However, that may come later as physicians become more aware of CPAP machine injuries. Do you have questions or concerns? Contact your physician immediately and check out the Philips CPAP recall FAQ page.

If you've suffered from cancer potentially linked to defective Philips CPAP machines, contact Riddle & Brantley at 1-800-525-7111 for a free consultation.

What Plaintiffs Say About Their CPAP Machine Injuries

One example of a lawsuit can be found in Gray v. Philips Electronics LTD, et al. (Case No. CV-21-00665742-00CP), filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on July 16th, 2021. Lead Plaintiff Korinn Gray says she was diagnosed with sleep apnea in July 2020 and spent $860 out-of-pocket on a Philips DreamStation Expert Auto CPAP and nasal mask. According to the lawsuit, she had been experiencing "headaches, airway irritation, coughing, nausea, and dizziness" for the better part of a year — but it wasn't until she received the recall notice that these health effects made sense to her. Now she is seeking a refund for the product and compensation for related medical costs, and punitive damages for any alleged ill-gotten profits.

Are CPAP Machine Injuries Permanent?

While a headache, cough, or sore throat may clear up after discontinuing the use of the affected device, organ damage and life-threatening diseases are not so easily cured. A Philips press release warned that the issues associated with their product "can result in serious injury, which can be life-threatening, cause permanent impairment, and/or require medical intervention to preclude permanent impairment."

Users of recalled Philips CPAP machines have been directed to contact their physicians at once to discuss an alternative treatment. While physicians generally recommend that patients discontinue using the defective CPAP machines, the risks associated with untreated sleep apnea are also serious and potentially life-threatening. Since Philips was the largest manufacturer of CPAP machines in the United States, there is a backlog of people needing replacement devices who are not receiving timely assistance.

Users who have sustained permanent CPAP machine injuries may be entitled to financial compensation to cover the cost of their medical expenses, a refund on the old CPAP, the cost of a replacement device, lost wages, and disability-related costs. Compensation could also cover an estimation of physical and emotional suffering and a loss of enjoyment in life.

Can Faulty CPAP Foam Cause Cancer or Serious Illness?

One of the most worrisome CPAP machine injuries is the alleged potential to cause organ damage, respiratory diseases, and cancer. PE-PUR foam, in particular, has not been widely studied for potential carcinogenic effects. However, some of the chemicals found within (such as isocyanates and diethylene glycol) have been linked to toxicity and lung cancer-- particularly in women.

North Carolina product liability lawyers at Riddle & Brantley are casting a wide net and are not ruling out anything just yet. Our team of expert CPAP lawsuit attorneys is currently evaluating cases of CPAP customers diagnosed with the following complications:

IMPORTANT: Due to developments in the multi-district litigation, we can no longer accept kidney or liver cancer claims related to Philips CPAP machines. Other cancers and health problems may still qualify. Please call 1-800-525-7111 for a free case review.

Cancers including:

  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Nasal cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Thryoid cancer
  • Papillary cancer
  • Various types of leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma

Other injuries including:

  • Severe ear, eye, nose, throat, sinus, or oral cavity inflammation and injury including nodules, cysts, and tumors
  • Respiratory problems, including:
    • Reactive Airway Disease (RAD)
    • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
    • Recurrent pneumonia
    • New or or worsening asthma
  • Lung damage / lung disease
  • Kidney damage/ kidney disease
  • Liver damage / liver disease
  • Heart problems
  • Sudden respiratory failure leading to heart attack

Chronic illnesses and diseases like cancer can be difficult to trace, but often, the research is there if you know where to look. Our investigators are working tirelessly to examine medical records and existing scientific literature to determine whether these adverse health effects may be linked to defective CPAP usage.

Which CPAP Machines Cause Injuries?

The CPAP recall affects virtually all Philips CPAP devices sold in the United States from July 2009 to April 2021. Most of the affected products are the first-generation DreamStation machines. The newly released DreamStation 2 devices do not use the same type of foam and are not affected.

In addition to CPAP machines, certain Philips Bi-Level PAP machines and mechanical ventilators may also be affected.

What To Do If You've Suffered Dream Machine Injuries or Other Potential Philips CPAP Injuries

IMPORTANT: As of June 2024, due to recent developments in the litigation, we can no longer accept Philips CPAP claims.

If you've suffered one of these CPAP machine injuries, call 1-800-525-7111 today for a free consultation with the experienced North Carolina product liability lawyers at Riddle & Brantley. Our team has been investigating CPAP injury claims and can help you file a Philips CPAP lawsuit if necessary. You may be legally entitled to compensation for all related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability, and more.Justice Counts.

"They turned a heartbreaking situation completely around."

–Tonya Taylor, Riddle & Brantley client