Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines are widely used to treat sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by temporary cessation of breathing during sleep. Many hotels and insurers in litigation are creating a scare defense on the use of CPAP and Legionnaires Disease. Studies and the normal use of CPAP has completely debunked this defense.
First and foremost, most people using CPAP machines normally follow the manufacturer’s directions, which likely recommend using distilled water. Most importantly for disproving a relationship between CPAP use and legionnaires disease, distilled water has been boiled, so any Legionella that may have possibly been present would be killed.
Additionally, a study was conducted to investigate the prevalence of Legionella pneumophila in CPAP machines and assess the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease for users. The results of the study found that a small percentage of CPAP machines tested positive for Legionella pneumophila. The prevalence was relatively low, suggesting that the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease from using a CPAP machine is minimal.
The final takeaway from the study for purposes of rejecting the CPAP defense is that if the victim used distilled water in the CPAP then there cannot be a causal relation between CPAP and Legionnaires. In the alternative, if the victim adequately maintained the CPAP then the risk of the legionella bacteria is extremely low.
Be prepared for false defenses.