I’ve mentioned numerous times that I have the greatest wife in the world. One (of so, so many) reasons she is so great is that she is able to look past my crooked nose, a result of breaking it four times. Another related reason is for years she has put up with my incessant snoring. Apparently, if I was overtired, I could make the paintings on the wall rattle.

Unfortunately, the only relief she got from my snoring was when I stopped breathing altogether. For extended periods of time. So, because she loves me, and really, really loves her sleep, I got tested for sleep apnea, a disorder where your airway becomes blocked during rest.

Not surprisingly, I was diagnosed as one of about 30 million people with the disorder. I was fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that keeps breathing for me if I quit and stops me from snoring. The machine literally saved my life. Not because of the breathing, but it almost certainly prevented me from being smothered in my sleep.

But seriously, it’s horrifying to think that a machine designed to save lives may have actually hastened death.

The Food and Drug Administration recently reported that since April of 2021, it has received more than 116,000 complaints involving CPAP machines and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) sleep therapy devices manufactured by Philips. The reports revealed the devices were blowing gas and pieces of foam into the airways of those using the devices and resulted in 561 deaths.

The Dutch manufacturer announced a recall in June of 2021, and attempted to fix some of the more than 5 million recalled devices. However, the repaired machines were ultimately recalled as well. So, at the end of last year, Philips agreed to pay almost $479 million to compensate users of 20 different breathing devices and ventilators sold in the U.S. between 2008 and 2021.

As a part of a settlement with the FDA and the Justice Department, the company further agreed to stop selling the machines in the U.S. until specific conditions are met. The tentative agreement, which must be approved by a U.S. court, requires the company to continue servicing machines already being used. According to the administrator with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the settlement does not impact or release any claims for personal injuries or medical monitoring relief.

As a result of the settlement, claims for financial losses related to the purchase, lease or rent of the recalled devices can be made. Eligible users are entitled to: a payment for each recalled device purchased, leased or rented; $100 for each recalled device returned; and reimbursement for funds spent on a comparable machine purchased on or after June 14, 2021 and before Sept. 7, 2023 to replace a recalled device.

CPAP users can go online to determine if they are eligible and, if so, how to receive a payment. The website with instructions is Users can look up their recalled device’s serial number to see what device payment award they may be entitled to. The deadline for claim submissions is Aug. 9, 2024.

Philips told CBS MoneyWatch that it investigated all complaints and allegations of malfunction and serious injury of death, and “has found no conclusive data linking these devices and the deaths reported.”

So, if you are currently using a Philips CPAP or BiPAP machine, please go to the website to ensure it has not been recalled. My machine is made by ResMed, so I can breathe easy.

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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