Bair Hugger Blankets & Infection

Forced-Air Warming Blankets Used During Joint Replacement Surgeries Can Allegedly Cause Infection

You drop a pen and shudder at the thought of bending down to pick it up. Getting out of your chair is a difficult task. It’s a perfect day outside, but you can’t imagine going for a walk.

Joint pain can be crippling. It may hinder people from enjoying the basic things in life. After exhausting all other options with their doctor, many joint pain victims decide to undergo hip or knee replacement surgery.

But instead of relief, many patients got serious infections after surgery, such as MRSA and sepsis, which can compromise the replacement, require amputations or explants, cause permanent disability, or even cause death.

Patients and their families were outraged to find out that these infections may have been the result of a special forced-air, warming blanket (the Bair Hugger) used during surgeries, and the manufacturer may have known and hidden these infection risks. Even the doctor who invented the blanket, Dr. Augustine, has been vehemently asking that they be recalled.

If you developed a serious infection after receiving joint replacement surgery, you may be entitled to compensation. Click here to contact a lawyer about your Bair Hugger claim.

The Facts About Bair Hugger Therapy & Joint Replacement Infections

Since it was first introduced, Bair Hugger therapy has been used on more than 125 million patients and the units are now used in 80% of hospitals in the United States.

The FDA cleared the Bair Hugger under its 510(k) program, which allows medical devices to be approved without clinical trials, so long as they are similar enough to other devices on the market.

The goal of the Bair Hugger system is to prevent hypothermia during surgeries where patients are anesthetized and therefore cannot regulate their body temperature. 3M, who acquired Bair Hugger’s original manufacturer, Arizant, markets different models of the Hugger, but all are designed to suck in nearby air and use it to warm the patient during surgery.

The Bair Hugger was invented by Dr. Scott Augustine, who has since made statements against the machine, saying that it could spread bacteria to the open incision.

Creator of Bair Hugger Asks for Recall

In 2010, Dr. Scott Augustine went public to the New York Times about his concerns over the Bair Hugger. He had since resigned from his position as chairman and chief executive of Arizant (the original manufacturer) and publicly advocated for the product’s recall.

“I am very proud of the old technology,” he told the Times. “But I am also proud to spread the word that there is a problem.”

In a letter Augustine gave to the Times, he asked Arizant, “The question for you to answer is the following; is Bair Hugger going to be replaced quickly and catastrophically by a mandatory recall, or do you survive a voluntary recall and live to fight another day?”

Studies Confirm Joint Replacement Infection Risk

The main reported side effect of forced-air warming devices is deep joint infection. Studies have shown that forced air warming creates air currents that can pick up contaminates off the floor or elsewhere and possibly deposit them at the surgical opening.

This is especially concerning for hip and knee replacement surgeries because if the bacteria latches onto the implants, it’s difficult for the body to attack the implant and the bacteria is able to multiply rapidly – causing infection.

Since Dr. Augustine’s statements to the Times, several studies have examined the risk:

  • In Nov. 2011, the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery published a study which reported a 74% decrease of deep joint infections when Bair Hugger warming was discontinued.
  • In 2013, the Bone and Joint Journal published a study that found more than 2,000 times more contaminates in the air near the surgical site when the Bair Hugger was used versus an air-free warmer.

Bair Hugger Lawsuits

Patients are upset that 3M doesn’t seem to care. And many are filing lawsuits claiming 3M has been negligent, failed to warn of risks, and misrepresented their products as safe.

Patients with compensable claims should be paid for their additional surgeries, hospital time or other medical bills – plus time out of work, pain and suffering, and other damages.

North Carolina Lawyers

Did you have a knee or hip replacement after 2007 and develop a deep joint infection afterwards? If so, it’s possible that a Bair Hugger blanket was used on you during surgery and you may be able to file a claim.

If this sounds like you, or a loved one, please click here to report your claim to one of our North Carolina lawyers or call us 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078.

Case Results & Settlements

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin consults with a national network of attorneys on product liability, defective drugs, and defective products cases in an attempt to provide the best representation we can for our clients. Depending on the details of your case, our firm will likely refer your matter to another law firm with which we associate. We will only do this if we believe it is in your best interests and if you agree.