Bair hugger warming blankets are medical devices used to control the body temperature of patients undergoing surgical procedures. These devices are commonly used during knee and hip replacement surgeries, but are increasingly linked to serious medical conditions, including deep joint infections, sepsis, and antibiotic resistant staff infections. As such, multiple lawsuits have been filed against Bair Hugger’s manufacturers, Arizona Healthcare and 3M Company.
Invented by Dr. Scott Augustine in the 1980s, warming blankets have been used to prevent hypothermia in tens of millions of patients. However, Augustine recently testified that the risk of infection in patients receiving implants outweighs the benefits. Specifically, patients receiving knee and hip implants, and artificial heart valves should not be treated with warming blankets.
“There is no question that it’s a true phenomenon. It’s happening. And it’s easy to show,” said Augustine. ”With regard to orthopedic infections, a scare is what’s needed. This product should never be on another orthopedic patient.” A MA defective medical products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a Bair Hugger warming blanket or similar device.
How Do Warming Blankets Cause Infections?
Bair Hugger warming blankets force warm air through disposable blankets used to cover patients during surgery. Unfortunately, contamination may occur when bacteria in the patient’s surroundings enters the warming system and is circulated around the patient’s body. If the patient has open wounds in the surgical site, bacteria may enter those wounds, resulting in potentially life-threatening infections.
“We studied this extensively for about 18 months. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the waste heat rises every single time. This was reported before 3M even bought the company,” said Augustine. “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.”
Symptoms of Infection Related to Bair Hugger Warming Blankets
The FDA has yet to issue a recall of Bair Hugger warming systems despite numerous adverse event reports, including burns and various equipment malfunctions. If you have recently been treated with a Bair Hugger warming blanket and develop the following symptoms, talk to your doctor:
- Fevers, chills and night sweats
- Increased pain or stiffness
- Warmth and redness around the wound
- Wound drainage
A Boston defective medical device attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a Bair Hugger warming blanket or any other defective medical device. Patients who have developed sepsis, MRSA, or other infections due to Bair Hugger warming blankets may need to undergo one or more of the following procedures to treat the infection:
- Multiple hospitalizations
- Additional surgeries
- Antibiotic spacers (inserted into infected joint)
- IV antibiotic therapy
- Physical therapy
- Revision surgery
- Amputation of infected limb
A 70-year-old Texas man required 15 operations after developing a deep joint infection from the Bair Hugger warming blanket. Another patient developed a MRSA infection that resulted in the amputation of his leg after bacteria from the hospital floor was “kicked up” by the Bair Hugger warming blanket. Even as lawsuits continue to pile on, these devices are estimated to remain in use in about 80 percent of U.S. hospitals. Continue reading