'Philips is liable for health problems' say users of apnea devices. Four users of a Philips device used to treat sleep apnea, the Dreamstation 1, are holding the manufacturer liable for health problems. Their lawyer Mr. Mark de Hek has announced this in a letter to the company. The users say they suffer from headaches or breathing problems or have cancer.
Some of those conditions are also mentioned in safety warnings about the device. The users want to investigate whether the use of the Dreamstation 1 has led to the health complaints in them. About 50,000 of these devices have been sold in the Netherlands. Earlier this year, the US based FDA took additional actions related to the Philips Respironics ventilators, BiPAP, and CPAP recall. You can find a link to the descriptions of those actions underneath this article. Sleep apnea is when a person's breathing stops while they sleep. The machine then ensures that breathing continues.
Last summer Philips warned about problems with the sound-absorbing foam in the Dreamstation People were therefor advised to stop using the device and to contact a doctor. But for some users, sleeping without the machine was not possible for medical reasons. 'Some of my clients are still using the device,' says attorney De Hek. 'They don't know if it's safe, but if they stop they'll be tired all day, have headaches, or they might fall asleep at work or in the car. So it's choosing between two evils.'In the safety warning, Philips says it has received complaints about black particles in the mask, among other things. Users are also said to have suffered from headaches, coughing and chest pressure, among other symptoms.
According to De Hek, Philips must now acknowledge liability, so that the consequences of using the device can be investigated. That investigation should be done and paid for by Philips, says the lawyer. 'It would be the opposite world if my clients had to do this research and pay for it. Philips brought these problems into the world, so should take responsibility for them.'
He says the studies should help translate from the general warning to the situation of individual users. 'There is a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty among my clients now.' Should the investigations show that his clients' health problems were caused by use of the apnea device, Philips should have to compensate for those damages, the lawyer says.
Solve the problem as soon as possible
Philips says it cannot comment on the liability claim. 'I would like to reiterate that we take the safety notification regarding these devices very seriously and that we strive to resolve this as well and as quickly as possible,' says a spokesperson.