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COVID-related supply chain issues complicate CPAP recall

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 14:00:58-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Hundreds of Dr. Damien Stevens’ patients are weighing the risks of using a recalled CPAP machine to control their sleep apnea versus the benefit of getting a good night’s rest.

“Probably about a third of my patients, they have such severe apnea, such severe sleepiness, that they continue to wear the machine even though this notice is out because they basically aren't functional without it,” explained Stevens, a pulmonologist at University of Kansas Health System.

The notice came in June. Electronics giant Philips announced a foam component to certain CPAP, BiPAP and ventilators could degrade and possibly send small particles or chemicals into a patient’s mouth.

In September, the company announced plans to begin repairing affected units. But the repair and replacement process could take months.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the machines listed on its device shortage list during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“It’s a bad situation. If I didn’t need it, I wouldn’t have it, but I need it, so I should have one,” Donald “Rocky” Rokusek said during a visit with Stevens at the hospital.

Stevens tells his 1,000 patients with sleep apnea issues from Philips machines involved in the recall are rare. He pointed out there is not a lot of data to fully comprehend the risks of continuing to use the machine.

“When we talk about a risk-benefit discussion, you want to know the risk because we do know the benefits, by and large, of CPAP. But, unfortunately, we’re a bit in the dark about the risk of this, there's not long term studies,” Stevens pointed out.

His advice for patients is as follows:

  • Register your recalled device with Philips as soon as possible. That will put you in queue to get a repair or replacement.
  • Do not attempt to repair the device yourself.
  • Talk with your doctor about the risks of continuing to use the machine to treat sleep apnea.
  • Be wary if interested in purchasing a used CPAP machine. It’s impossible to know for how many hours the previous owner ran the machine, and most have a 5-year lifespan.
  • Have a doctor or other professional reset any used machine you purchase to the pressure settings specific to your needs.
  • Do not use ozone or UV-based cleaners on your CPAP machine.

To find out if your machine is part of the recall, visit Philips’ website.