Sleep apnea is a medical condition that involves someone’s respiration when they are unconscious. Someone who has sleep apnea repeatedly stops breathing and then starts again throughout the night. Loud snoring and difficulty achieving deep rest are both warning signs of sleep apnea.
One of the ways that medical professionals address sleep apnea is by instructing patients to wear masks attached to special sleep apnea machines. Recently, a device maker at the forefront of the sleep apnea equipment industry announced that it would no longer sell certain devices in the United States in part because of a pending recall.
What machines are subject to recall?
More than five million Philips brand pressurized breathing machines, including continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines, are now subject to a major recall. The devices manufactured by Phillips contain foam in the mask that the user wears that can break down over time with repeated use.
People may inhale both dangerous chemical fumes produced by the degradation of the foam and may even inhale or swallow minute pieces of the foam itself as they sleep. The contents of the foam could be dangerous to human health, and may potentially even be carcinogenic. The type of foam used has produced thousands of reports of medical side-effects including cancers that may relate to the foam used.
Therefore, Philips has recalled millions of machines and estimates that the recall could cost the company as much as $400 million to execute. Until the organization finds a way to address the issue, it has agreed to not sell any more of the affected units in the United States.
This is an example of a recall that could have major implications for the well-being of individual consumers and one in which the United States government has played an active role. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) applied pressure to Phillips throughout the recall process and negotiated to halt the sale of machinery pending a resolution of the issue with the foam in the masks.
Consumers exposed to dangerous products often have rights under the law. Pursuing a product defect claim when someone develops an illness or suffers a major injury because of a defective product is a reasonable response to the harm at issue.