What is a CPAP machine?
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a medical device commonly used to treat sleep apnea, characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. CPAP therapy aims to maintain a steady flow of air into a patient's airways, keeping these airways open and ensuring regular breathing patterns throughout the night.
A CPAP machine consists of a few parts. There is a mask, which the user wears over the nose and mouth while sleeping. This mask connects to a ventilator, providing continuous air pressure to the user during the night.
CPAP treatments initially started as a treatment for dogs with respiratory issues. These early devices used a vacuum cleaner-like instrument to help open up their airways. As research continued to improve this system for resolving airway obstruction, medical device manufacturers further developed the technology, resulting in today's CPAP machines. CPAP devices help people who want to improve their breathing at night by using equipment that isn't as invasive as the vacuum systems of the past.
CPAP machine uses
A CPAP machine provides a noninvasive treatment for managing sleep apnea. Since medical researchers have linked sleep apnea to significant health complications, improving this condition with a CPAP machine can enhance a person's sleep quality and overall health. Before the invention of CPAP machines, the primary treatment for sleep apnea was surgery. Surgeons would remove a section of the patient's respiratory system under the assumption that some issue within the respiratory system was the source of the sleep apnea issues. However, surgery didn't always work, leaving a permanent tracheostomy as the only solution for addressing airway restrictions.
Thanks to CPAP machines, medical professionals have a much safer way of treating sleep apnea in patients. While other forms of treatment remain for sleep apnea conditions, CPAP machines are one of the most common and effective methods.
How a CPAP works
The CPAP machine consists of several essential components. It includes a motor that generates pressurized air, a humidifier to add moisture to the air, a mask or nasal pillows that deliver the air to a patient's airways, and tubing to connect all the components of the CPAP device.
When a patient wears the CPAP mask or nasal pillows and turns on the machine, the motor begins to push air into the tubing. The pressurized air is delivered through the mask, creating continuous airflow into the patient's airways. The pressure level is set based on the patient's specific needs and is determined during a sleep study or under the guidance of a health care professional.
The CPAP machine maintains constant positive pressure and effectively prevents upper airway collapse, a common problem in individuals with sleep apnea. The continuous flow of air helps to keep the airway open, allowing for normal breathing and reducing the occurrence of apneas and hypopneas.
Common side effects of CPAP machines
While CPAP machines can help treat sleep apnea, they can also contribute to unwanted side effects. These side effects are a normal occurrence from using a CPAP machine and do not result from using a faulty CPAP device. Possible side effects from using a CPAP machine include the following:
Aerophagia occurs when a person swallows too much air. As a result of ingesting too much air, the person may experience abdominal discomfort, belching, or flatulence. Many people experience aerophagia because they swallow pressurized air when using the CPAP machine.
Claustrophobia is the fear of closed-in spaces. Some users of a CPAP machine report feeling confined while wearing the CPAP mask because it covers their noses. Several studies suggest that more than half of all CPAP users have claustrophobic tendencies when using the device.
Using a CPAP machine can also lead to respiratory or sinus infections. Various bacteria, viruses, or other allergens can enter the CPAP mask while in use. If users do not clean their CPAP machines regularly, these germs can accumulate, leading to possible illness.
Dryness of the Eyes and Mouth
CPAP machine use can also lead to dryness in several areas of the body. Some people using a CPAP machine report having dry eyes or mouth. An improperly fitted CPAP mask can cause air to flow toward the eyes and dry them out. Users may be unable to close their mouths against the equipment, leading to a dry mouth.
CPAP machine users may also experience a dry nose or dry skin. The forced air from the CPAP machine may dry out the nose, while the materials of the CPAP machine may cause skin irritation in areas where the machine's components touch the face.
Issues associated with CPAP machine recalls
In June 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication regarding CPAP and BPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) machines from Philips Respironics. Philips recalled some of its ventilators, as well as BPAP and CPAP machines. This recall resulted from the discovery of a breakdown of the polyester-based polyurethane foam used within these devices. Users could breathe in or swallow black pieces of the foam and other chemicals while wearing the mask when this material breakdown occurs.
Breathing in or swallowing this debris while using the CPAP machine could result in serious injury or long-term illness. You may be eligible for a lawsuit if you or a loved one has used or is currently using a recalled Philips CPAP device. Speak with a lawyer to learn more about your eligibility. In addition, consider talking with your health care provider, who may suggest using a different device or provide other treatment options for your sleep apnea.
Philips CPAP recalled products
Philips has recalled several CPAP, BPAP, and ventilator products created between 2009 and 2021. The list of recalled products includes the following CPAP devices:
- A-Series BiPAP A30
- A-Series BiPAP A40 (ventilator)
- A-Series BiPAP Hybrid A30
- A-Series BiPAP V30 Auto (ventilator)
- C-Series ASV (ventilator)
- C-Series S/T and AVAPS
- DreamStation ASV
- DreamStation Go
- DreamStation ST, AVAPS
- Dorma 400
- Dorma 500
- Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent (ventilator)
- OmniLab Advanced+
- REMstar SE Auto
- SystemOne ASV4
- SystemOne (Q-Series)
- Trilogy 100 (ventilator)
- Trilogy 200 (ventilator)
Philips also recalled various Trilogy Evo ventilators sold between April 15, 2021, and May 24, 2021, with specific serial numbers associated with them.
If you used one of the devices on this list manufactured during the specified recall period, you should consult with your health care provider. You can often find your device's ID number on the product or packaging. If you need to verify whether your CPAP device is among the recalled CPAP machine products, ask your health care provider for more information.
Philips CPAP recall lawsuits
As a result of many patients experiencing negative effects after using their Philips CPAP or BPAP machine, lawsuits are now underway aiming to deliver financial relief. As of February 2023, the FDA has received more than 98,000 medical device reports, including 346 deaths between April 2021 and Dec. 31, 2022, related to the broken-down foam within recalled Philips CPAP machines. Other injuries in these reports include dizziness, asthma, infections, cough, headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and cancer.
After victims filed numerous lawsuits against Philips, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated more than 110 federal CPAP lawsuits into one Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Centralizing these cases into one MDL allows for a more streamlined evidence-sharing among plaintiffs. Lawsuits continued to stream in following this consolidation of cases. Lawyers expect more than 1,000 cases in the MDL by the end of 2023.
The next step in the litigation process is for several cases within the MDL to act as bellwether cases. Bellwether cases give lawyers on both sides more information on how a jury will receive the evidence in these cases. Lawyers can then use this information to determine how to best proceed with the case.
Philips CPAP recall lawsuit settlement amounts
Since no settlements in Philips CPAP recall lawsuits have occurred, this factor makes it hard to determine potential settlement amounts for future cases. Several scenarios impact a settlement amount, including the severity of the injuries and the strength of the evidence in the case. However, lawyers estimate that cases involving people living with cancer may settle for between $100,000 and $500,000, while other cases will likely settle for less.
These estimates also come from looking at settlements and verdicts in cases that, while not related to the Philips CPAP recall, are still informative for historical context.
A lawsuit in 2018 resulted in a $300,000 verdict for the plaintiff, in which the family of a deceased gentleman alleged that a hospital was negligent when hospital staff administered an MRI to him without acknowledging that he was dependent on a CPAP device and should have been intubated before the procedure. During the MRI, the man stopped breathing, and attempts by a pulmonologist and ER physician to resuscitate him failed. The jury in the case found the hospital, but not the pulmonologist, negligent.
While lawyers can look at similar CPAP-related cases to help determine settlement or verdict amounts, it's important to remember that each case is different. Settlements or verdicts may vary from case to case.