Did Philips Respironics Know the CPAP Machines Were Dangerous?

Did Philips Respironics Know the CPAP Machines Were Dangerous?

Millions of people across the country rely on CPAP breathing machines to manage their sleep apnea. Philips Respironics, one of the largest makers of CPAP and BiPAP breathing machines, has issued a massive recall and alerted consumers to the health risks associated with the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam lining in their products. 

The PE-PUR foam has been breaking down into particles that CPAP users inhale, causing cancer, respiratory issues, organ damage, and other negative symptoms. Consumers are understandably concerned and want more information about when Philips Respironics become aware of the critical defect in their machines’ foam. The CPAP machine makers are now facing mounting pressure as plaintiffs file product liability lawsuits to recover compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Defective CPAP Breathing Machines May Cause Serious Health Issues

Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) breathing machines regulate airflow as the user sleeps, preventing oxygen deprivation that can occur as a result of sleep apnea. Philips Respironics CPAP machines have a PE-PUR foam component that helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration from the machine so as not to disturb sleep. 

Unfortunately, the noise-damping foam is not sustainable enough to endure the regular usage of a CPAP machine. It appears to break down when exposed to heat, humidity, or even the recommended cleaning products. The toxic particles are then drawn into the user’s airflow. These toxic particles have been linked to numerous types of cancer and other serious health issues.

Cancers and Serious Health Conditions Linked to CPAP Usage:

Other CPAP Machine Side Effects:

  • Headaches
  • Irritation to eyes, skin, and respiratory tract
  • Chest infections
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inflammation

CPAP breathing machine users should seek medical attention as soon as possible if they notice any of the signs or symptoms associated with these health conditions, as early detection can drastically increase the chance of successful treatment. By documenting your treatment, you are also preventing insurance companies from undermining a future claim you may choose to make.

Philips Respironics Knew There Were Issues With Foam Degradation

Following a massive voluntary recall of CPAP machines and BiPAP machines in June of 2021, the FDA has since reclassified their CPAP machines as a Class I product. This designates Philips Respironics CPAP machines as products that have a high threat of death or injury. Thus far, the FDA reports 70,000 complaints regarding illness related to defective CPAP machines and 124 deaths related to CPAP machine injuries.

The magnitude of the recall and the number of reports filed underscores the threat that CPAP breathing machines pose to users. Despite the significant risk associated with the consistent use of certain CPAP and BiPAP machines, Philips Respironics did not immediately issue a warning to consumers. In fact, internal emails have revealed that Philips Respironics was aware of the disintegrating PE-PUR foam issues in 2018, and had received complaints as early as 2015 from customers. 

This means that Philips Respironics makers knew that the foam was breaking apart about 6 years before they ever issued a recall. This information was brought into the spotlight as the CPAP Machine multidistrict litigation makes its way through the claims process. This development bolsters the plaintiffs’ argument that Philips Respironics was aware, or should have been aware of the issues with their CPAP machines. 

Damages in a CPAP Machine Lawsuit

As a result of their injuries, plaintiffs in the CPAP machine lawsuits have sustained a range of damages. Compensatory damages are used to repay plaintiffs for the monetary value of what they have lost as a result of another party’s negligence. The two types of compensatory damages are economic and non-economic damages.

Plaintiffs can claim economic damages to reimburse their financial losses and provide a receipt to validate their monetary value. Non-economic damages are more complex to quantify. However, they are an important part of ensuring that a plaintiff is repaid what they are owed. Non-economic damages account for emotional and intangible losses.

Examples of Damages in a CPAP Breathing Machine Lawsuit:

  • Medical bills
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Missed promotions
    • Job retraining
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life 
  • Wrongful death
    • Loss of consortium
    • Loss of services and support
    • Loss of parental guidance and instruction
    • Funeral and burial expenses

The value of your CPAP claim will depend on the extent of the damages you have sustained. Generally speaking, the more serious your injuries are, the more compensation you may be eligible to receive. A product liability lawyer is qualified to calculate the value of your compensatory damages.

Philips Respironics Facing Product Liability Lawsuits Over CPAP Machines

The plaintiffs in the CPAP breathing machine lawsuits believe that Philips Respironics should be held liable for their negligence in failing to warn customers of the issues with their defective CPAP and BiPAP machines. Their argument is that Philips Respironics designed a defective product and failed to warn customers of the risks associated with it. 

Had Philips Respironics not violated its duty of care to consumers, the plaintiffs would not have sustained injuries from the CPAP machines. If plaintiffs are successful in making this argument, then they must be able to demonstrate that their injuries, such as cancer, are a result of using the defective CPAP machine. Plaintiffs will also need to work with their personal injury lawyer to quantify the value of their damages and connect them to their injuries.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer or a serious health condition after the repeated use of a CPAP breathing machine, you may be entitled to recover damages in a product liability lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can offer the resources and expertise necessary to make a convincing claim for damages. They will act as your advocate in negotiations, and in order to maximize compensation.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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