The Bair Hugger warming device may put surgery patients at risk of infectionDuring surgery, it is difficult for a patient to maintain his or her body temperature independently. A dangerous dip in body temperature is a medical emergency that can have devastating results. Thus, in an effort to prevent hypothermia and to lessen bleeding and recovery times, surgical teams often help patients stay warm by using medical devices, such as the Bair Hugger warming blanket.

How the Bair Hugger Works

The Bair Hugger is warmed through heated forced air. The forced hot air circulates through a hose under the surgical table and into a blanket that goes around the patient’s body. The warm air penetrates the blanket and helps keep the patient warm and the patient’s temperature at a safe level.

The Bair Hugger was originally made by a company known as Augustine Medical, which later changed its name to Arizant. In 2010, 3M purchased Arizant, and Arizant is now a 3M subsidiary. The device came on the market in the late 1980s, and today it is used in the majority of United States hospitals.

FDA History on Bear Hugger

The Bear Hugger gained the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987. As of December 2015, the FDA has not issued a recall of the Bair Hugger, nor has the agency issued any official statement or warning about the medical device’s risk of infection. However, the FDA has received reports of problems with the Bair Hugger.

Why the Inventor Thinks the Bair Hugger Is Flawed

Dr. Scott Augustine developed the Bair Hugger, and he still speaks out about the benefits of maintaining a patient’s temperature during surgery. However, Dr. Augustine also speaks out about the potential risk presented by the Bair Hugger. Specifically, Dr. Augustine reportedly claims that the Bair Hugger presents a significant risk of infection, particularly during orthopedic surgeries. He allegedly bases his concern about infection on various studies including:

  • A study that found an increased risk for deep joint infections when forced air warming is used during orthopedic surgeries.
  • A study that found an increased number of particles near the surgical site when forced air warning devices, such as Bair Hugger, are used.
  • Three studies that found that the forced air warming could impact ventilation around the surgical site which could lead to contamination of the site.

Overall, Dr. Augustine has raised concerns that the Bair Hugger’s forced hot air system allows particles, bacteria, and other contaminants to be lifted from under the surgical table into what should be a sterile surgical site. The result of this contamination could be staph infections such as MRSA and other serious infections.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt by a Bair Hugger

At least 20 lawsuits have been filed alleging that patients suffered serious infections after having orthopedic surgeries with Bair Hugger warming blankets. In December 2015, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that 14 lawsuits be heard in the District of Minnesota because the cases involve common issues of fact. These cases allege that 3M and its subsidiary Arizant were aware of the dangers and that the companies withheld the information from the public.

If you experience fever, pain, swelling, or any other symptom of infection after surgery, then it is important to get immediate medical attention. Make sure to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan and to keep good records and notes of your pain, your suffering, and your inconvenience.

If you confirm that a Bair Hugger was used during your surgery and that you suffered a post-surgical infection, then you should also contact an experienced medical device injury lawyer. An attorney can investigate what happened to you and take appropriate action to protect your legal rights if you suffered an infection because of a Bair Hugger device.

The damages caused by a post-surgical infection can be significant and may include past, current, and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain, and suffering. If a Bair Hugger caused you to suffer these damages, then you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. Please contact our experienced medical device injury lawyers at 888-450-4456 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and to learn more about protecting your legal rights and possible recovery.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky