Imagine that you use a medical device to help you sleep more soundly and safely at night, only to learn that the device may also expose you to known cancer-causing compounds. That is exactly the experience that some people with sleep apnea have had over the last few days.
There is currently a recall across the United States that affects a significant percentage of the 25 million Americans diagnosed with sleep apnea. People may need to choose between a device that helps them sleep safely and potential future cancer risks.
What is sleep apnea, and what is the machine it necessitates?
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects the continuity of respiration during sleep. Those with sleep apnea may start and stop breathing repeatedly while unconscious. This results both in danger to their health and loud snoring.
CPAP machine helps provide assistance with breathing and can also dampen the sound of snoring, making it beneficial for the person with sleep apnea and the rest of their family. They also dramatically improve someone’s daily lived experience by minimizing the sleep disruptions they experience. Constantly waking up at night can impact everything from someone’s cognitive function and mood to their immune system.
Those who have used a certain kind of CPAP breathing machine now have to decide between possibly exposing themselves to cancer-causing chemicals while they use the device or risking a night’s sleep without their machine.
What caused the recall?
Phillips, the manufacturer of the DreamStation CPAP has announced that the foam used for the product could degrade and off-gas dangerous chemicals or break down into particles that people may inhale or swallow. The byproducts of this degradation process include known carcinogens.
The manufacturer may replace or repair devices, but it could take them up to a year to get around to all of the affected units. In the future, the manufacturer could potentially face liability related to the exposure of its customer base to known carcinogens.
Those who suffer negative consequences because of defective products are sometimes in the position to take legal action against the manufacturer, especially if they suffered permanent or severe injuries because of the defective product.