A local doctor is cautioning his patients to speak to a medical professional before discontinuing use of their Philips Respironics CPAP medical device.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the recall recently because of a sound abatement foam that could break down and potentially enter the device’s air pathway.

If this occurs, debris from the foam or certain chemicals released into the device’s air pathway may be inhaled or swallowed by the person using the device.

The gases that are created by the breakdown of the foam may be toxic and have been deemed potentially carcinogenic.

Dr. Bill Naguszewski, a neurology and sleep medicine specialist with the Coosa Medical Group, is concerned that some of his patients may just stop using their machines altogether as a result of the recall.

He’s encouraging patients to call the office before just shutting down their machines.

“Respironics, they’re an incredibly good company,” he said.

Naguszewski said the recall stems largely from use of an ozone-based cleaning system, which his practice had not encouraged patients to use to begin with. He said his lead respiratory therapist, Liz Linn, recommend a water-based cleaning system to keep the equipment functioning smoothly.

As far back as February 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication to inform patients and health care providers that devices claiming to use ozone gas or ultraviolet light to clean or sanitize CPAP devices and accessories — such as masks, tubing and headgear — were a concern. The FDA said their safety and effectiveness for use with CPAP devices and accessories was unknown.

To ensure the safe and effective cleaning of CPAP devices and accessories, the FDA is recommending that consumers and health care providers follow the cleaning instructions provided by the CPAP’s manufacturer, which normally include regular cleaning with soap and water.

Naguszewski estimated that he’s seen close to 3,000 patients who may be using the Respironics machine at this time.

The use of ozone as a cleaning solvent for CPAP machines is one of the major factors putting the machines at risk.

Other factors that put the foam in danger of degrading are exposing machines to high heat and or high humidity.

Patients who have only experienced the mildest form of sleep apnea, those who do not have a problem with oxygen desaturization, no other cardiac issues and are otherwise truly healthy could possibly turn off their machines without putting themselves at even greater health risks.

“If their sleep apnea is moderate or severe, we really don’t want to stop that CPAP machine,” Naguszewski said. “If the patient has had a stroke, heart attack or abnormal heart rhythm — low oxygen levels are just not good for the brain, or heart.”

Linn, a certified respiratory therapist, said one of the keys to keeping the Respironics machine working properly is keeping it clean.

Using distilled water only will keep mineral deposits from forming on the reservoir. Patients can use over the counter CPAP wipes to clean the mask every night before use.

“Never, ever use tap water,” Linn said. She suggests cleaning out the air hose in regular dish detergent and hot water and letting it air dry at least once a week.

Naguszewski said another concern at this time is that most of the CPAP machines used in many sleep centers in the Rome area are the Respironics models.

The physician said the machines used in his lab are safe because of the way they have been cleaned, but that he has also ordered ResMed CPAP machines, made by another manufacturer, just in case.

People using the Respironics CPAP are encouraged to go online to PhilipsSRCupdate.ExpertInquiry.com where they can see if their specific model is impacted by the recall. Patients can also call the manufacturer at 1-877-907-7508.

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