Since their development in 1987, Bair Hugger warming blankets have helped keep patients’ body temperatures up during surgery, an important aspect of procedures that has been shown to reduce bleeding, speed recovery time, and improve outcomes. However, a growing body of evidence has shown that the heating blankets have a defect that can cause patient infections, especially in those who are having surgery on major joints, such as knees or hips.
Medical devices should help keep you safe and healthy, not harm you. If you or a loved one has had to battle an infection due to a Bair Hugger warming blanket, speak to an attorney today about your story and your potential case.
Bair Hugger warming blankets are disposable medical devices that used forced air in order to keep patients warm throughout a surgical procedure. The plastic blanket is laid over a patient, often with a window through which the surgeon works. At the same time, warm air is circulated under the operating table in order to keep the patient warm from below.
Currently, Bair Hugger warming blankets are used on 4 out of 5 of all hospitals in the United States.
In recent years, concerns have been raised that Bair Hugger blankets could be causing infections in patients, especially joint surgery patients. The theory is that the forced air system used by the blankets changes the circulation of air in the operating room, causing contaminated air to flow to the surgical site. This contaminated air can infect joints, causing sepsis or MRSA.
A scientific study published in the Bone and Joint Journal in the United Kingdom in 2011 found that Bair Hugger significantly increased the chances of a deep joint infection when compared with a different type of “HotDog” warming blanket.
Even the doctor who developed the Bair Hugger warming blanket in the 1980s, Dr. Scott Augustine, has come out against the product, saying that the company that produces the blankets knowingly sells them understanding the great risks they pose: “There is no question that it’s a true phenomenon,” he has said during his lectures about the device. “It’s happening and it’s easy to show. With regard to orthopedic infections, a scare is what’s needed. This product should never be on another orthopedic patient.”
He has also said:
“We studied this extensively for about 18 months. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the waste heat rises every single time. This was reported before 3M even bought the company. 3M can say that it doesn’t happen. But when you are going against a basic law of physics, it’s kind of an absurd thing to say.”
A deep joint infection can be extremely dangerous and even deadly, especially in patients with compromised immune systems and elderly patients. These infections can also have dire consequences if not caught and treated early.
The signs and symptoms of a joint infection include:
Treatment for joint infections include a second surgery and antibiotics. Many patients may require the long-term use of antibiotics. Treatment for joint infections can be expensive, stressful, and painful. If you or a loved one had to be treated for an infection following a joint surgery, and that infection was caused by a Bair Hugger warming blanket, you could legally be owed compensation for damages, which could include:
At this point in time, more than 50 joint surgery patients have filed lawsuits against 3M, the manufacturer of Bair Hugger warming blankets, after they suffered joint infections following surgery. The lawsuits claim that 3M knowingly continued to sell the device even after discovering that the blankets significantly increased the chances of a serious infection.
Don’t stay silent if a negligent medical device manufacturer caused you or a loved one harm. To get your case reviewed, and get your legal questions answered, we invite you to schedule a free, private meeting with one of our attorneys. Call Sweeney Merrigan Law today at (617)-391-9001 or contact us online.