Patients Who May Be Affected by the Bair Hugger Lawsuit
The Bair Hugger warming blanket system is widely used during surgeries to maintain a patient’s body temperature while under anesthesia. It works by pushing warm air underneath a blanket that is placed over the patient during surgery. There is an increasing body of scientific evidence showing that heat produced by the Bair Hugger device can flow beneath the surgical table, causing convection currents. These currents can draw air from the floor that is contaminated with bacteria and circulate it toward the patient, potentially infecting the sterile surgical incision site. Patients who underwent a procedure in which a warming blanket was used are among those who may be affected by the Bair Hugger lawsuit. Many have suffered complications from the device, even years after having the procedure.
The inventor of the Bair Hugger warming systems, Dr. Scott Augustine, has spoken out about the dangers associated with using the device. Dr. Augustine has publicly called for the device’s manufacturer, 3M, to initiate a voluntary recall concerning patient safety. If you developed a deep joint infection following a procedure in which a Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket was used, please contact an experienced defective medical devices attorney to explore your legal options.
Why are Warming Blankets Used?
When a patient is put under general anesthesia, they will commonly experience a decrease in their body temperature. Warming blankets are used to maintain normal body temperature throughout the procedure, which reduces bleeding and recovery time.
There are over 110 pending lawsuits stemming from the use of Bair Hugger warming devices during surgeries.
Bair Hugger Lawsuits
There have been adverse reports, however, of complications stemming from the use of a warming blanket, dating back many years. Many patients who have experienced a deep joint infection following surgery have filed claims in the Bair Hugger lawsuit. Among other claims, this lawsuit alleges that:
- 3M knew about the increased risk of deep joint infections related to the use of their product
- 3M failed to properly warn healthcare providers and potential patients of the risk
- 3M failed to redesign the Bair Hugger to make it safer after its inventor spoke out against the product
- 3M tried to hide and discredit scientific evidence supporting an increased risk of complications from the product
There are over 110 pending lawsuits stemming from the use of Bair Hugger warming devices during surgeries. Recently, the existing lawsuits were centralized in a single multidistrict litigation in federal court in Minnesota. This court will handle all of the issues that will be common to all cases, including evidence and discovery. This process will also ensure that there are consistent rulings on pretrial matters. Our legal team is working tirelessly to ensure that those affected are updated on the current status of the ongoing litigation.
What Type of Patients May Be at Risk?
Orthopedic surgery patients who underwent a joint replacement procedure between 2007 and 2015 in which a Bair Hugger warming blanket was used may be at risk for developing a deep joint infection. Bacteria that is drawn into the surgical site by the warm air currents can attach to the plastic and metal components of the implant. This bacteria can form a protective barrier that surrounds the implant and prevent antibiotic treatments from being effective. Additionally, there are many conditions that can increase a patient’s risk.
Conditions that Increase the Risk
There are several health conditions that can put a patient at an increased risk for complications following hip or knee joint replacement surgery. Patients who have health conditions that impair the body’s immune response or slow down the healing process may be at higher risk for complications from an orthopedic surgery.
A person’s immune system is a complex system of tissues, cells, and organs that collaborate to protect the body against germs, or foreign invaders. Immune disorders prevent the normal functioning of fighting off infections and disease, and also leave the sufferer more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. Examples of immune disorders include HIV/AIDS, leukemia, and lymphoma. Orthopedic patients who are immunocompromised are at a significantly higher risk of developing a deep joint infection after a procedure with a Bair Hugger device.
Diabetic patients do not produce a sufficient amount of insulin to maintain blood glucose levels properly, and may be at a higher risk of developing a post-surgical infection. One of the characteristics of the condition is that wounds take an extended period of time to heal, which can exacerbate complications following an orthopedic procedure with a Bair Hugger device.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a condition that affects the blood vessels that are distant from the heart and brain, such as the veins and arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs. PVD involves narrowed blood vessels, which reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the extremities. Because of poor blood flow in the hips and knees, joint replacement patients with PVD are more susceptible to developing post-surgical deep joint infections.
Obesity can have lead to a variety of complications, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer, and gallbladder disease. Many of these conditions can increase a person’s risk for complications from knee or hip replacement surgery by compromising the body’s ability to fight infections and to heal following surgery.
Immunosuppressive treatments were originally designed to help prevent organ rejection for patients who received a transplant. This type of drug is now used to treat people with certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Immunosuppressive medications impair the ability of a patient’s immune system to fight disease, which can increase their risk of infection.
If you have been injured by a defective medical device, Speak with an Attorney
Chemotherapy is an immunosuppressive therapy to treat cancer. Chemotherapy drugs, such as Taxotere®, work by targeting and inhibiting the development of cancer cells, which grow at a faster rate than healthy tissue. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is the destruction of white blood cells, which help to protect the body from infection. Patients who have recently undergone chemotherapy treatments may be at a significantly higher risk for developing an infection following joint replacement surgery with a warming blanket.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
Bair Hugger warming blankets are used in the majority of hospitals in the United States to keep patients warm during surgeries, including knee and hip replacement procedures.
An increased incidence of patients who suffered complications afterward has led many to file claims in the Bair Hugger lawsuit. If you or a loved one developed a deep joint infection after having an orthopedic surgery with a Bair Hugger device, please contact a defective products attorney to explore your legal rights. You may be entitled to significant compensation from the manufacturer.