AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Two weeks ago, medical device company Philips issued a voluntary recall on nearly four million C-PAP machines used to treat sleep apnea, along with Bi-PAP ventilators used to treat respiratory failure.
C-PAP devices made up about 80% of the recall. The problem? Foam used to dampen the machines' sound can degrade and emit small particles that irritate airways, or the degrading foam can cause a release toxic or cancer causing gas.
Philips is advising people stop using the C-PAP machines, but sleep apnea itself can be a deadly disorder.
"I've been talking about the risks of not using the C-PAP machine versus the unknown or theoretical risks," Dr. Samuel Friedlander, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center sleep specialist, told 3News. "I have certainly told all of my patients to discontinue using any ozone cleaners right away. They should only be used with the masks and not the machine itself."
Philips says they've had no reports of people becoming ill, but they recognize that the risk is there. They say they'll replace the sound abatement foam with a new material, give updated instructions for use and set up a repair and replacement program.
But there's no timeline for when that will happen, and distributors and Philips say there will be a shortage of C-PAP machines by the end of the month.
If you own one of the company's machines, register your device immediately on the Philips website, or call (877) 907-7508. In the meantime, talk to your doctor about your options and monitor any strange symptoms that could include headache, irritation, inflammation, respiratory issues, nausea or vomiting.