Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Lawsuits
Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Lawsuits
Risks posed by the Bair Hugger warming blanket are at the center of increasing litigation against 3M Co. Nearly 60 orthopedic patients claim that the forced air warming device, frequently used during surgery to prevent anesthesia-induced hypothermia, caused incapacitating deep-joint infections.
Dr. Scott D. Augustine, a Minnesota anesthesiologist who invented Bair Hugger warming units and equipment used in thousands of U.S. hospitals, is also speaking out against the devices. Augustine cites research that shows the device’s convection currents stir up bacteria and contaminants from the hospital floor, which can then be embedded into the surface of an artificial hip or knee implant at the time of surgery.
“With regard to orthopedic infections, a scare is what’s needed. This product should never be used on another orthopedic patient,” Augustine recently told the Star Tribune.
The entrepreneur and doctor will likely testify in upcoming trials that Bair Hugger temperature management systems pose serious infection risk, particularly for patients undergoing joint replacement surgery.
Leveraging decades of litigation experience involving recalled products and defective medical devices, The Sanders Firm offers effective legal advocacy for those who believe Bair Hugger warming equipment is responsible for their injuries.
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Allegations raised in Bair Hugger lawsuits
Those who have filed product liability lawsuits contend that Arizant and 3M were aware of infection risks, especially in heart valve and joint surgery patients, but failed to caution patients and healthcare providers. The claims also allege that the defendants provided misleading information about the safety of their products and attempted to conceal scientific data which supported the dangers of forced air units during orthopedic operations.
At The Sanders Firm, our highly credentialed attorneys have a long record of substantial verdicts and settlements reached with Big Pharma and manufacturers of dangerous medical devices. If you or someone you love developed an MSRA infection after having joint replacement surgery, we invite you to take advantage of a free consultation with our firm. We can help determine if the Bair Hugger air warming system was utilized during your surgery and if you have a valid claim for damages. Call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to learn more.
Forced air spreads bacteria and contaminants
Plaintiffs echo the same criticisms asserted by Dr. Augustine, who says the Bair Hugger warming equipment is a threat to patients receiving prosthetic joints and artificial heart valves. According to Augustine, the forced air can draw “waste heat” from below the operating table, which then spreads bacteria that can lead to hospital-acquired infections, and those that are resistant to antibiotic therapy.
Concerns about the spread of airborne contaminants were explored in a 2011 study, which was published in the UK’s Bone and Joint Journal. Researchers tested Bair Hugger technology on mannequins and compared it with patient records, determining that the forced air warming blankets created an increased risk for deep-joint infection compared with patients who were warmed with another device developed by Augustine known as the HotDog. The primary difference between the two is that the HotDog employs conductive heat (much like an electric blanket) rather than forced air, and therefore does not disrupt convection currents.
Attorneys for 3M claim that Augustine’s disparaging comments are nothing more than a ploy to scare people and promote his own, competitor product. And despite the possibility of a class action Bair Hugger lawsuit, the manufacturing giant continues to enjoy robust sales from a number of patient warming products, including Bair Hugger Therapy. Legal counsel for 3M contends there is no medical evidence to prove that Bair Hugger blankets can spread bacteria and create joint infections, but plaintiffs’ counsel believes a definitive correlation can be established.
Risk of infection in joint surgery patients
Back in 2013, Tommy Walton — an elderly hip replacement patient — was one of the first people to file a Bair Huggar lawsuit against Arizant and 3M. The Texas man claimed that contaminated airflow from the unit during his 2011 surgery caused a debilitating infection. Walton ultimately needed 15 revision surgeries to address his complications and had to have his hip implant removed. The suit is seeking more than $1 million in monetary damages to account for Walton’s medical bills, pain, suffering and permanent disability.
Deep joint infections can be life-threatening if swift measures aren’t taken to control the damage.
Patients who suffer infection in an artificial knee or hip joint may experience:
- High fever
- Severe pain
- Reduced mobility
- Death – if the infection is left untreated
Another orthopedic patient who is now taking legal action against 3M and Arizant argues that the infection he got from the Bair Hugger device triggered a cascade of revision operations and an amputation.
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