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Aggressive Bair Hugger Surgical Blanket Injury Lawyers

Handling complex injury claims arising from defective warming blankets

Bair Hugger warming blankets, currently manufactured by 3M Company, are used in hospitals on a regular basis to help keep patients warm during surgical procedures. They utilize a forced-air heating system that is designed to help compensate for the loss of heat the body often experiences during surgery. Although these blankets are still used widely across the nation, a number of lawsuits have been filed by individuals claiming to have received serious infections from the device.

If you have acquired a serious infection after going through a surgical procedure in which the Bair Hugger warming system was used, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the manufacturer. An experienced medical device injury lawyer from our team at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, can evaluate your case and to help determine if you have a case that would ensure you receive justice and compensation for the harm incurred by the dangerous medical device harm you have received.

How the Bair Hugger system works

Many patients who undergo surgery develop a condition referred to as hypothermia – this occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can create it. The condition of hypothermia can introduce particular complications during and after surgery, including infections and blood loss.

Dr. Scott Augustine developed the Bair Hugger warming blanket system in the late 1980s to give medical personnel an effective method of treating hypothermia.

The system consists of warming units that filter and propel warm air through disposable blankets that are placed over the patient before, during, and after surgery has ended. The blankets are designed with pressure points that prevent heat from reaching particular areas of the body that have greater risk of developing pressure sores or burns.

In order to prevent cooling which occurs by moisture evaporation, the Bair Hugger system includes drain holes in the blanket that pass fluids from the surface of the blanket to the linen underneath. The disposable nature of these blankets does help prevent patient-to-patient transmission of infections.

Warning from the inventor of the Bair Hugger system

In 1988, the Bair Hugger system was introduced to the U.S. market, eventually leading to its use with some 180 million patients and 80 percent of the hospitals in the nation.

Dr. Augustine, the inventor, now publicly states that the medical device is dangerous to use on patients undergoing surgical implant procedures, such as those involving heart valve, knee, and hip implants.

Dr. Augustine stepped down from his positions in 2002 as Chairman and Chief Executive of the company that manufactures Bair Hugger. Since that time, he has been informing the public about the risks associated with the product he created. The prime danger he warns of is that the Bair Hugger warming system can lead to the spread of infectious bacteria during surgery.

In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Augustine strongly advised hospitals to stop using the Bair Hugger system for particular types of surgeries due to the elevated risk of severe infection it causes.

Several months later, The Bone and Joint Journal published a study revealing that forced-air warming devices may produce a 380 percent increase in the risk of developing a deep joint infection.

Although numerous studies referenced by the manufacturer of the Bair Hugger system have found that forced-air heating benefits surgical patients, Dr. Augustine noted that none of these studies cover forced-air heating systems typically used during orthopedic surgeries.

In 2015, Dr. Augustine gave a talk in which he explained how a patient exposed to contaminated air during knee or hip implant surgery could easily contract a deep joint infection. As a result of acquiring the infection, according to Augustine, the patient may have to endure:

  • Intense pain and suffering
  • Revision surgery
  • Medical costs exceeding $100,000
  • Permanent disability

Bair Hugger infection risk

The Bair Hugger system, when used for surgical patients, is reported to have caused the following serious issues:

  • Burns from protracted exposure to heat
  • Deep joint infections
  • Air flow ventilation disruption (due to forced-air warming and excessive heat)
  • Greater quantity of airborne particles close to the surgical site (due to radiant heating)

Unfortunately, thousands of surgical patients have claimed to have developed serious infections during joint replacement surgeries in which Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets were used.

Almost any surgical procedure carries with it the risk of infection. However, orthopedic surgery patients are more susceptible to what are known as “deep joint infections.” Hip and knee replacement surgeries, in particular, carry a higher risk for contamination than other types of surgeries. The problem with deep joint infections is that they are not easily treated and reversed. They can lead to more serious problems including MRSA, sepsis, blood infections, and pneumonia. The consequences of these conditions can include longer hospital stays, more extensive medical care, additional surgeries, and in the worst cases, even amputation.

3M Bair Hugger lawsuits

Over 4,000 individuals have leveled a lawsuit against 3M connected with their alleged injuries as a result of their exposure to the Bair Hugger warming system. These lawsuits allege a failure on the part of 3M to warn consumers and physicians about the possible risk of infection associated with the product. They also allege that 3M misrepresented the level of safety for surgery patients exposed to the Bair Hugger system.

3M refutes the claim that the blankets are responsible for patient infections and other complications. They assert that the attorneys for the plaintiffs lack evidence to back their claims.

On December 13, 2017 U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen issued a ruling that allows plaintiffs to have their preferred expert witnesses provide testimony to support their claims. The Judge denied 3M’s request that these witnesses be excluded, and the cases dissolved.

Was a forced-air warming blanket used in your recent surgery?

You may not necessarily know if a forced-air warming system such as the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket was used during your surgery. However, if you recently had a knee, hip, or shoulder replacement surgery, it is highly possible that such a device was used during your procedure.

If you have suffered an infection after any type of joint replacement surgery, contact our law firm immediately. Our team can investigate your case, including your medical records to help determine if a Bair Hugger or other similar device may have contributed to your condition.

Contact our Bair Hugger injury lawyer to learn about your options

Are you or a loved one suffering from an infection or other injury caused by a Bair Hugger system or other medical device? At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, we have successfully litigated numerous dangerous medical device claims for injured clients. A dangerous medical device liability lawyer from our team is ready to help you determine whether to move forward in your case to get the justice and compensation you deserve. To set up a free, no obligation consultation, fill out our contact form or call us today at 803-327-7800.

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