For years hospitals have used the Bair Hugger Therapy device to keep patients warm during certain orthopedic surgeries. Since the blanket was first introduced on the market in the late 1980’s it has been used by over 180 million patients across the country, and an estimated 80 percent of hospitals across the country use this therapeutic device. However, there has been several notable people who have suggested that these devices can lead to infections and complications including the device’s creator.
If you or a loved one has developed an infection after being treated with a Bair Hugger warming blanket during infection, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and other losses. Call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.
Did You Develop a Hip or Knee Implant Infection from a Bair Hugger Warming Blanket?
The Bair Hugger was invented during the 1980s by Doctor Scott Augustine. Dr. Augustine invented the blanket as a means of preventing patients who are under the effects of anesthesia from developing hypothermia. Dr. Augustine noted that most if not all of patients who are undergoing surgery will become hypothermic during the course of their operation, wherein their bodies will lose heat faster than their body can produce. Hypothermia is a potentially devastating medical condition that if left untreated could result in permanent and irreversible injuries and even death. Even a mild case of hypothermia under surgical conditions can result in increased amounts of blood loss, infections, and prolonged hospital stays. While the blanket is one of the most widely used devices Dr. Augustine invented a whole like of Bair Hugger surgical equipment including the blanket, warming units, and other accessories.
The Bair Hugger warming unit works by generating heated air to keep patients from developing hypothermia while they are under the effects of anesthesia, which generates heated air, is now manufactured by 3M and comes in three different versions: the Model 505, the Model 750, and the Model 775. The warming unit uses a hose to connect to a blanket, encapsulating the patient in a heated environment.
Recently, reports have surfaced that Bair Hugger warming devices can potentially lead to infections and bacterial contamination. In fact, the Star Tribune in November 2015, Dr. Augustine, who now advocates against the use of the Bair Hugger, made the following statement:
“This product should never be on another orthopedic patient. […] We studied this extensively for about 18 months. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the waste heat [which carries contaminants] 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.”
It has been alleged that the Bair Hugger can create air currents which carry bacteria and other contaminants up from the floor and other surfaces in the operating theater. These contaminants are then deposited onto the surfaces of medical implants, such as hip implants or knee implants, which can lead to a debilitating infection deep within the joint.
Infections from the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket
One of the most serious risks that the Bair Hugger warming blanket poses to users is the potential for a deep joint infection. These infections are particularly common and devastating when they are in thy hip and knee. Infections have been a constant source of litigation against the Bair Hugger blanket. In fact, a federal lawsuit filed in March of 2014 in Kansas alleges that a man became infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) after he underwent surgery. As a result of his infection he had his leg amputated to prevent the infection from spreading further. While it is a small percentage of people who experience an infection after using a Bair Hugger blanket, somewhere around 1 percent, these victims often must undergo multiple surgeries to treat the infection as well as rounds of powerful antibiotics.
Critics argue that this blanket does not, in fact, decrease the risk of infection, but rather increases the risk of infection by blowing forced air with potentially lethal bacteria into sterile surgical sites. Recent medical research also supports many of the critics, and in 2011 the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery published an esteem peer-reviewed study titled “Forced-Air Warming and Ultra-Clean Ventilation Do Not Mix” this study found that products which use conductive heat, like an electric blanket, are associated with “a significant reduction in infection rates” when compared to forced-air devices like the Bair Hugger. Medical products that use conductive heat have an infection rate of 0.8%, compared to the much higher 3.1% infection rate observed from the Bair Hugger. Some of the symptoms of a deep joint infection including increased pain and or stiffness in the joint, swelling, warmth and redness around the surgical site, abnormal drainage from the wound, fever, chills, night sweats, and fatigue.
The above-mentioned gentleman is not the only person who has developed an infection and subsequently had to undergo surgeries and amputations. In fact, 3M has faced over 500 lawsuits from people who have all claimed that they developed joint infections after using the Bair Hugger forced-air warming device.
If you were Injured by a Defective Medical Device can you Receive Compensation?
No matter if the product is a toy, a piece of construction, equipment, or even a medical device. Any company that produces products to be used by consumers has a legal obligation to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for its intended use, or otherwise they have an obligation to display clear warning labels. However, it is a sad reality that products with serious design and manufacturing flaws still reach the market and ultimately impact consumers. Products liability can be broken down into three separate categories:
- Manufacturing defects – a manufacturing defect for a medical device is any defect in the actual manufacturing of the product. Injuries from the Bair Hugger have not universally been from the manufacturing defect there are other defects a product can suffer from that can serve as the basis for liability.
- A design defect – a design defect is a defect in the product that makes the product such as the Bair Hugger inherently dangerous. These design defects make the product dangerous no matter the amount of caution the user employs while using the product. The Bair Hugger design is what many have claimed to be inherently dangerous, and has been the reason for so many people being diagnosed with MRSA after the product was used on them.
Because many have claimed that the Bair Hugger is suffering from a design defect, 3M subsidiary Arizant Healthcare, who is responsible for making the Bair Hugger blanket, can potentially be held liable for any resulting infections and injuries that stem from the use of their product. Many of the patients who have sustained an infection or another injury from these blankets have had to undergone expansive additional surgeries, as well as suffered through the loss of limb and even life.
Rely on Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Injury Lawyer Ken Kieklak
If you or a loved one has been injured or developed a potentially deadly infection as a result of using the Bair Hugger blanket, you may be able to seek financial damages. For a confidential case evaluation with an experienced drug and pharmaceutical litigation attorney, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.