The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed the warning about the Volara system to a Class I recall, the most severe level of recall, which is reserved for products that may cause injury or death. At the time of the warning, one injury had been associated with the product; as of today, there have been two deaths and one complaint, according to the FDA’s release.
Normally, the Volara system is used for breathing treatments that are administered at home. The medical device company that manufactures it, Baxter International Inc, says the product is designed to help expand the airways and clear mucus for patients who use it. But because of recent product malfunctions, patients are at risk of choking on mucus, developing an infection in their lungs that cuts off their ability to take in oxygen, or in the worst cases, developing brain injury and death.
The risk is especially high because Volara is designed to be used in outpatient settings, not in the hospital under the supervision of a healthcare professional. It’s supposed to require less supervision than other ventilators. But if there is a problem with the device, or if it’s not connected properly, or if no one is available to assist, people are more likely to be harmed.
People who use the Volara ventilator system at home or people who assist in the use of it should be on alert for these problems. But the FDA advises that patients continue using the therapy if the device has been recommended by a doctor. The device should be used with extra precaution, and patients should be monitored for signs of distress, the release says. Problems while using the device should be reported to the FDA’s Medwatch database.
In addition to these reports, Baxter and its subsidiary company Hillrom say they will update the instructions for the device and will dispatch trainers to make home visits for users. The contact information for the company, as well as additional resources, are listed at the bottom of the release.