The Edmonton Journal reported the February 20, 2015, Philips Lifeline Canada recall of a medical alert necklace designed without a breakaway cord because it led to the 2013 death of an Alberta woman. According to the recent inquiry into the death of Elizabeth Bell, 72, the woman asphyxiated when the Lifeline cord became entangled with her walker.
Bell reportedly suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other ailments but was in relatively good health before she died. She had occasionally activated her Lifeline when she fell during the five years she had it, and had used a wrist lanyard for two years prior to that.
Since 2009 there were two reports of deaths that “were possibly related” to the Lifeline products in Canada, reported the newspaper. Phillips issued a warning about the non-breakaway cords being a possible choking risk and since 2011 had replaced the necklace with a new breakaway version. Before that, more than 100,000 non-breakaway necklaces were distributed in Canada. After the fatality report was issued, Alberta Health Services and Health Canada recommended that Phillips replace non-breakaway cords with cords that break away.
Consumers in Canada can order a replacement for their non-breakaway cord by calling toll-free 1-800-1215 or at the Philips Lifeline website.