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The human body is unable to regulate temperature while under general anesthesia, causing the core body temperature to decrease rapidly during surgery. For this reason, warming blankets such as Bair Hugger are used to keep the patient’s body at a proper temperature. Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets are commonly used in operating rooms across the United States, but there have been allegations in recent product liability lawsuits brought by patients that there is a link between use of the medical device and deep joint infections.
Warming blankets help maintain a normal blood flow during surgery to prevent hypothermia and reduce bleeding and recovery time. Warming devices are used to make surgery safer, but the lawsuits involving the Bair Hugger machine allege that it may actually increase the patient’s risk of infection, specifically in surgeries performed to place implants such as hip and knee replacements.
If you or someone you know has had complications following a knee or hip replacement surgery, please contact our lawyers in Orlando at (855) 880-4741 to discuss your defective medical device claim. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter specialize in medical negligence and product liability cases such as Bair Hugger.
What is Bair Hugger?
Bair Hugger is manufactured by 3M Co. and Arizant Healthcare, Inc. and was invented by Dr. Scott D. Augustine in 1987. The medical device uses a forced air warming (FAW) system and was the first of its kind to do so. Bair Hugger therapy pushes warm air into a blanket on top of or underneath the patient through a hose. The air is then released beneath the surgical table.
Lawsuits allege that the hot waste air pushed out under the table can potentially cause bacteria and germs to spread around the operating room and land inside the surgical site by dispersing or disturbing contaminants from the floor. This may lead to severe infections such as MRSA and sepsis. These infections are hard to treat when they develop deep within a patient’s joint.
One lawsuit alleges the air filtration blower of the Bair Hugger machine has the potential to take in contaminated air and enable microorganisms to enter and grow within the internal airflow mechanism.
While scientific research linking infections with Bair Hugger machines are unproven so far, the inventor, Dr. Scott Augustine, himself has warned the public and the device manufacturer, Arizant, of and concealed the dangers associated with the device. Dr. Augustine has also said that he believes the device poses a danger to patients and that the forced air can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.
Bair Hugger Infection Claims
The first Bair Hugger lawsuit was filed in 2013 against 3M, Arizant and a sales person for the companies. The plaintiff is a 70-year-old man who underwent hip replacement surgery in 2011 in which Bair Hugger was used. The man claims the air filtration blower held contaminated air. This design defect enabled the contaminated air to be expelled and may have caused the plaintiff to develop a deep joint infection in his surgical wound. This infection led to 15 subsequent surgeries and ultimately, the removal of his artificial hip.
The lawsuit alleges that 3M knew of the increased risk of deep joint infections associated with their Bair Hugger warming blanket machines during replacement surgeries, but failed to address the issue and redesign the machine. The manufacturer also failed to warn healthcare providers of the potential risks surrounding the device defect.
This case is ongoing and also alleges that the manufacturer purposely deceived the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the air flow system’s safety in 2009.
3M and Arizant could be held accountable in several ways if a jury finds them negligent or that they failed to disclose these dangers. For example:
- Breach of implied and express warranty
- Product liability
- Product misrepresentation
Our Defective Medical Device Lawyers Can Help
If you’ve suffered complications from a hip or knee replacement surgery, it’s a good idea to consult with our lawyers, as Bair Hugger is a commonly used medical device. We have the experience and skill necessary for defective medical product claims such as these. We will fight for you to get the compensation you deserve for:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of quality of life
- Long-term disability
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
Schedule your FREE case evaluation at our Orlando office today at (855) 880-4741. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter serves clients in Orlando, Florida and throughout the United States.