Problem Solver: Faulty sleep aid machine causes unrest

CPAP device leaked water, ruined nightstand; claim slow in being resolved

For years, Sandra Lichtman has used a CPAP machine at night, a device designed to combat the symptoms of sleep apnea and help her breathe.

When her old machine broke in January, she called her medical supplier, Wheeling-based MedSource, which promptly replaced it with a newer model.

She put the new machine on her nightstand, flipped it on and went to sleep.

Her night was peaceful, but when she awoke the next morning, her new Philips Respironics CPAP machine had leaked, spilling water everywhere.

Lichtman immediately called MedSource, which sent a technician to fix the machine. She then had two furniture restoration companies examine the nightstand to provide estimates on fixing it. One said it would cost about $250, the other said $450.

Lichtman promptly filed a claim with MedSource.

In the weeks and months that followed, the Northbrook resident called MedSource repeatedly to ask about the status of her claim, she said.

"I've been getting the runaround since January," Lichtman said. "I call them about once a week and ask them what's going on. I'm not any further along."

Worried she'd never get reimbursed, Lichtman contacted What's Your Problem? this month.

"This is so silly," she said. "It's $250, but I'm so aggravated, annoyed, upset with how they are doing business."

Lichtman said she has been told again and again by MedSource that folks there were "looking into it."

"I keep telling them that at my age, it's going to be a race between whether they get this done while I'm still here," the 79-year-old said.

The Problem Solver first called MedSource and spoke with leader/manager/coach Mel Bolt.

Bolt said he could not speak specifically about Lichtman's case because of privacy concerns but said Philips Respironics machines have had problems with leaking.

He said Philips, not MedSource, is responsible for paying Lichtman's claim and that MedSource has advocated on her behalf.

"We're not involved at all, except we try to help people who need help," he said. "We've been running the ball on it."

The Problem Solver then called Philips spokeswoman Amy Shanler.

On Tuesday, Shanler emailed to say Lichtman's claim had been approved.

"The Philips Respironics team had started the approval process in July when the customer (Ms. Lichtman) contacted us," Shanler wrote. "We reached out to MedSource to get more details, then authorized payment on her claim."

Shanler said the $450 check is due to be issued this week.

"We will send it to our customer as soon as we have it in hand," she said. "We apologize for any inconvenience this situation has caused Ms. Lichtman."

Lichtman was ecstatic.

"I am absolutely flabbergasted," she said Wednesday. "That's wonderful."

Twitter @wyp_tribune

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