Indianans who use continuous airway breathing machines for sleep apnea and physicians who treat patients with ventilators need to be aware of a recent recall by Phillips, a major manufacturer of these devices. The Dutch medical equipment company recalled as many as 4 million CPAP machines and ventilators, many of which were sold in the U.S.

Why the Recall Was Issued

Millions of Americans are diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which their breathing stops and starts during sleep. Many people who have this condition are prescribed CPAP machines to help to keep their airways open while they sleep. Doctors also use ventilators in hospital settings to provide oxygen to people suffering from a broad variety of medical conditions. Phillips has manufactured many of the machines that are currently used in the U.S. both by individuals and hospitals.

According to the recall, Phillips states that a type of foam that is used in its CPAP machines and ventilators can degrade over time, causing tiny particles to enter the lungs of people using the machines. The particles can cause inflammation and potentially can lead to cancer. The foam is used to dampen sound as the machines run. The company said that it is working to find a replacement for the foam, but any replacement will first have to go through testing and be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. People who have developed cancer as a result of using these machines might have grounds to file product liability claims against Philips.

Product manufacturers and designers have a duty to only produce products that are safe for the public to use. When there are defects in the design or manufacturing process, the parties involved in the chain of distribution may be liable to people who are injured because of the defects. Manufacturers might also be liable if the warnings about the risks of a product are inadequate.