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For decades, the Bair Hugger Surgical Warming Blanket has been used to keep patients warm during extensive surgeries. Since its introduction in 1988, the Bair Hugger device has been used on over 180 million patients. Currently, about 80 percent of hospitals in the United States still use this form of therapy. However, recent studies show that Bair Hugger Surgical Warming Blankets used during deep-joint surgical procedures have caused patients to develop serious infections.
If you developed an infection following an orthopedic-joint surgery, such as shoulder, hip, knee or ankle surgery, you may qualify for a Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit. Contact our team for more information.
The Carlson Law Firm has more than 40 years of experience representing victims in product liability cases. It is in your best interests to contact a qualified Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit attorney to navigate your claim. An experienced Bair Hugger Device lawyer from our firm will handle your case with compassion and care. We are familiar with the avenues of compensation relevant to your specific situation. Contact us for a free consultation. Our firm will advocate for your rights and hold the right parties accountable for your injuries.
What is a Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Blanket?
The Bair Hugger device is a warming blanket used to prevent and treat perioperative hypothermia. It uses a convective warming technology to maintain a patient’s core body temperature before, after or during surgery. The system consists of a reusable warming unit and a single-use disposable warming blanket. The Bair Hugger device received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987.
The 3M company is the current manufacturer of the Bair Hugger.
How Does The Bair Hugger Surgical Warming Blanket Work?
Surgical warming blankets, such as the Bair Hugger, work like a forced-air heater, pushing warm air through a hose into a blanket covering a patient. The device releases warm air over a patient’s body but also releases air under the surgical table.
The 3M Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket was designed to help keep patients warm during surgery. More than 50,000 of these units are currently in use across the country, but individuals who have filed Bair Hugger lawsuits argue that the blankets have a design flaw that increases the patient’s risk of developing a serious infection.
During joint-replacement surgery (shoulder, hip, knee, ankle), it’s important to maintain the patient’s body temperature. Patients can get cold before, during, or even after a surgical procedure because of a number of factors, including the effects of anesthetic drugs, the presence of uncovered skin, and the intravenous administration of cold fluids. If the patient becomes too cold because of a dangerous drop in body temperature, they risk becoming hypothermic.
A drop in temperature negatively affects the outcome of surgical procedures. It can increase the risk of infection and heart problems, slows healing, and may lengthen recovery time. Keeping a patient warm, on the other hand, results in reduced risk of heart attack and infection, and may shorten the length of the hospital stay.
How do Bair Hugger Devices Lead to Infections?
Evidence suggests that Bair Hugger devices circulate contaminants and cause debilitating deep joint infections. Those who are having joint surgery are especially at-risk for infection. Plaintiffs have filed Bair Hugger lawsuits claiming that the design of the product allows bacteria and other contaminants on the floor of the operating room to become airborne, and can land on a patient’s exposed joints and tissues during surgery. These contaminants then cause serious deep joint infections after the surgery is complete. Further, this can lead to serious infections such as sepsis, a condition that may lead to organ failure.
Air released from under the operative table spreads germs and bacteria throughout the room, landing on a patient’s surgical site. As mentioned, this can cause an infection in the patient’s hip or knee, such as sepsis and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Unfortunately, these infections are very difficult to treat when they occur deep in a patient’s joint.
Lawsuits further allege that microbial contaminants build up within and are emitted by the Bair Hugger device and that the internal filtration system is unable to prevent the emission of contaminants into the operating room. Court documents show that 3M represented Bair Hugger’s filtration system as meeting High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) standards (capable of removing 99.97% of particles), but that as it’s marketed, the Bair Hugger filter is only capable removing less than 65% of particles.
While 3M insists its Bair Hugger products are safe and efficient, inventor Dr. Scott Augustine claims the devices increase the risk of infection. There has, in general, been little publicity about Bair Hugger dangers. However, patients undergoing joint surgery likely have no idea that they are at risk from the warming device.
What is MRSA?
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is a strain of common bacteria that have grown resistant to antibiotics. It is generally considered a “superbug” because it is so difficult to treat with routine medicine.
While Staphylococcus is a common bacteria that usually goes unnoticed. About 20 percent of people always carry the bacteria in their body. And another 60 percent of people will carry it in their body from time to time. Generally, healthy people have a small risk of infection from the bacteria. However, the risk for infection increases if a person carrying the bacteria has surgery.
What are the Symptoms of a Bair Hugger Infection?
Several complications can arise from an MRSA or sepsis infections. In many of these cases, these infections may be life-threatening and may spread quickly throughout the body. These types of infections require immediate medical intervention. The FDA has received reports of serious patient injuries following the use of Bair Hugger warming blanket, including:
- Serious deep-joint and deep-tissue infections
- MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auerus) infections
- Sepsis infections
- Other serious infections
Because artificial joints lack blood vessels, the body’s immune system has a difficult time fighting off infections. This is why those with knee or hip replacement surgeries are at increased risks for Bair Hugger device infections.
Signs and Symptoms of Surgical Infection
MRSA can lead to fatal conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia and skin infection that can spread deep into the body. Post-op, there are a few signs you should keep an eye on and seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms of surgical infections include:
- Clammy or sweaty skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chills or night sweats
- Increased pain or stiffness
- Warmth and redness around the wound
- Wound drainage
Further, patients may develop skin infections or MRSA (bacterial) pneumonia. Bacterial Pneumonia Infections include:
- Chest pains (particularly when coughing or breathing)
Skin infection can be extremely painful infections. They can quickly lead to abscesses and require surgery to drain. If left untreated, the infection can spread from the skin to bones, joints and into the bloodstream. In more severe cases, MRSA infection can spread to the lungs and heart; which can lead to disruption of heart valves. Additional MRSA skin infections symptoms include:
- Pimples, cuts or other skin irregularities fill with fluids
- Red, swollen or painful areas on the skin
- Skin is warm to touch
If a Bair Hugger device leads to an infection in you or a loved one, contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit Attorney.
Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Treatment
Treatment for these infections includes a combination of surgeries and antibiotic therapy. In severe cases, amputation, joint fusion, or removal and a two-stage revision surgery may be necessary. Patients who are not able to have a second surgery are usually treated with long-term antibiotics.
When a joint infection is suspected, early diagnosis and proper treatment increase the chances of a full recovery. If you have any symptoms of infection, you should immediately contact your medical provider and seek follow-up care. You should also contact a defective medical device attorney to find out if you qualify for a Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit.
What do the 3M Bair Hugger Manufacturers Know About the Problem?
The former manufacturers of the Bair Hugger device admitted to the FDA that the device might lead to compromised medical sites. In a 1997 letter, the manufacturers wrote that “air blown intraoperatively across the surgical wound may result in airborne contamination.” They vowed to remedy the problem through implementing a tape barrier on the Bair Hugger blanket to prevent air from migrating toward the surgical site. In addition to never following through with the tape barrier, the tape barrier would’ve never resolved the problem.
Studies have found that 24 percent of forced-air-warming (FAW) blowers were emitting significant levels of internally generated airborne contamination. Further, the study detected microorganisms on 94 percent of FAW blowers’ internal air path surfaces. Other studies have found mold inside of 26 percent of the devices.
Despite the scientific evidence, 3M continues to deny the evidence and insist to both healthcare providers and the FDA that Bair Hugger devices are adequate. Further, the company claims that filters inside of the device meet the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) standards. HEPA standards require that a filter remove 99.97 percent of particles larger than .3 microns. However, plaintiffs the Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit says that the device is only capable of removing 65 percent of these particles.
Currently, more than 50,000 Bair Hugger devices are in use across the country. This means that thousands of surgical patients are constantly at risk of exposure to contaminants.
Current Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit Litigation
Over 3,000 surgical patients have filed suit against 3M alleging that the Bair Hugger blankets were the cause of their infections. In December 2015, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized all federal Bair Hugger device cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL) No. 2666 in the District of Minnesota. The MDL is assigned to Judge Joan Ericksen. The cases in the MDL, while joined together for investigatory purposes, are still separate and distinct regarding individual causation and damages.
In their complaints, the plaintiffs allege they have suffered significant injuries on account of the use of Bair Hugger warming blankets during their orthopedic surgeries. Plaintiffs also allege that 3M:
- Knew about the risks involved with the Bair Hugger device
- Failed to warn of those risks
- Failed to redesign the product to increase its safety
- Fought to hide and denounce scientific data demonstrating such risks
Bair Hugger lawsuits reference a number of studies that they say support the idea of forced-air warming devices contributing to operating room contamination and an associated higher risk of patient infection. If you developed an infection after surgery where a Bair Hugger device was used, contact The Carlson Law Firm. We have a Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit Attorney who can answer all of your questions. Call today for a free consultation.
Lawsuits such as these aim to provide money to victims for medical bills, lost work time, impaired ability to earn an income, diminished quality of life, and other losses.
In the case of Bair Hugger lawsuits, plaintiffs may be able to recover money from 3M for the cost of follow-up surgery resulting from surgical wound contamination as well as the costs of rehabilitation and other therapy/services related to long-term disability. They may also be eligible to receive compensation for an inability to work (or diminished income prospects) as a result of health complications found to arise from the Bair Hugger device.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help With Your Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit
Patients are often unaware of whether or not a Bair Hugger device was used during their surgery. Based on your medical records, our firm is able to determine if this dangerous product was used and if you qualify for a Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit.
If you have sustained injuries or harm due to a medical procedure or any type of medical device, it is important that you seek experienced legal representation right away. A Bair Hugger Surgical Infection Lawsuit Attorney from The Carlson Law Firm is ready to pursue justice for you. We understand how complicated and difficult life can become after you have suffered serious harm. When you become our client, we may be able to help you pursue maximum compensation for any medical expenses, physical pain, lost wages, or emotional distress you may face as a result of your illness or injury.
Don’t delay, or it may be too late. Secure the representation you need today!