Philips recalled my husband’s CPAP machine. Now it wants us to wait for a replacement

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By Christopher Elliott

Philips recalls our readers’ CPAP machine. But delivering a new one to him may take a while. How long is too long to wait?

Question

My husband has been using the Philips Respironics CPAP machine for years. Last month, we found out that Philips recalled the device years ago. My husband filled out their form and then called a few days later to get a case number. 

The recall website states that Philips has devices ready for patients and that it is making “every effort” to ensure they get into the hands of those who are waiting for them.

Philips says it will ship the replacement CPAP machine in two months. This is unacceptable. My husband has congestive heart failure and there have been hundreds of people affected by this problem machine. He can’t reach anyone else on the phone about this. Their customer service is nonexistent. Can you help in any way? — Linda Jordan, Pleasanton, Calif.

Answer

A CPAP machine (that’s shorthand for “continuous positive airway pressure”) is a device that delivers pressurized air to your nose and mouth while you’re sleeping. 

Philips voluntarily recalled your husband’s CPAP machine after discovering a potential health risk related to a part. It should swap out the recalled machine with a fixed one immediately. 

But before I get to that, I have a question. Why are you only learning about this recall now? Philips should have sent you an email or letter notifying you of the recall. I’m not sure why it didn’t, but I wonder how many other Philips customers are using a recalled CPAP machine. (Related: Mitsubishi issued a recall for my car. Why won’t it pay for the repair?)

You could have reached out to Philips’s executives to underscore the urgency of your situation. Although I don’t currently list the names and numbers of the Philips executives on my consumer advocacy site, you can find them by using my guide to locating the contact information of any CEO. A brief, polite email to one of them might have given you options.

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One option: You could have rented a CPAP machine while you waited. Philps might have even paid for the machine if you asked nicely (although I can’t guarantee it). Or you could have persuaded Philips to double-time it on your husband’s new CPAP machine. (Related: Will Viking cover her airfare cost after a surprise portable oxygen problem?)

How Philips resolved this CPAP case (with a nudge from my advocacy team)

You reached out to my advocacy team. I asked Philips about your case.

“We regret the inconvenience that the recall has caused patients and have made providing the rapid replacement of devices our most urgent priority,” a representative told me. “To date, we have produced approximately 99 percent of the new replacement devices and repair kits needed for patients under this recall. When we receive a new and complete patient registration today, we are generally able to provide a new device in about six weeks. We inform patients of this anticipated timeline and in many cases, are able to ship devices to patients more quickly.”

You were one of those cases. Less than a week after I asked about your husband’s CPAP machine, Philips sent you a new one.

About this story

Product recalls are serious business, so when this case landed on my desk, it went straight to the top of my list. My team wanted to get Jordan’s medical device replaced immediately, because more than anything, we hate losing readers. This story was researched, written and fact-checked by Christopher Elliott with a big assist from our advocacy team of Mel and Dwayne. Andy Smith and his editing team ensured it was written in the English language, and Dustin Elliott is responsible for the abstract illustration.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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