Attorneys Explain Mechanics and Complications Related to Bair Huggar Warming Blankets
The Bair Hugger infection attorneys at the Drug Law Center routinely work with clients who developed infections linked to the use of the Bair Hugger therapy blankets often used during surgical procedures to regulate patients’ body temperatures. Research has linked the use of these devices with an increased risk of infection and disease because they may pull pathogens from the floor and distribute them onto the patient’s opened body. If you underwent surgery and one of these warming blankets was used during your procedure, you may be entitled to compensation for any of the injuries you suffered as a result.
The History of the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket
Patients undergoing surgery are more prone to suffer from hypothermia, which is the inability of the body to maintain a safe temperature. Warming blankets were developed to keep the body warming while under anesthesia to be able to treat this side effect and reduce the risk of complications that occur due to hypothermia, such as the increased risk of blood loss, infection and the inability to recover quickly following the procedure.
The Bair Hugger Therapy blanket was one of the first products released to address this surgical risk and hit the market in 1988. Over 180 million procedures have utilized this device since then to keep patients’ temperatures regulated throughout their bodies. The doctor who originally invented the equipment has since come forward advising against the use of the 3M Bair Hugger Therapy system because it could increase the risk of infection— especially in procedures involving hip or knee replacement.
3M has hit back by saying that his studies were nothing more than fearmongering, but one has to question whether the word of the devices’ inventor should be so quickly brushed aside. Studies since then have only reaffirmed his conclusions, linking numerous infections to the use of forced air warming blankets.
How a Forced Air Warming Blanket Works
By filtering air and directing it to the pressure points throughout the body, these blankets keep air away from areas prone to injury while warming the blood during surgery. There are drain holes throughout the blanket for liquid to pass through in order to maintain heat levels and the blankets themselves are disposable in order to eliminate the risk of transmitting infections from patients through them.
The inventor of the Bair Hugger has resigned from his position and since made a case that bacteria are able to spread through the air that is being circulated within these blankets and this is making it possible for an infection to develop at the incision site or inside of the body. During surgery is when the body is most prone to infection and when there is the greatest need to take precautions.
Complications Linked to the Bair Hugger Blanket
The primary complication that has been linked to the use of these devices is the increased risk of infection. Most infections are treated through the use of antibiotic medications before they can spread to major organs. The problem with infections that are rooted in surgical procedures is that the invaders are able to find their way into blood and deep tissues where they are hard to eliminate through traditional means. Examples of complications that may result from these infections include the following.
- Readmission to the hospital— an infection doesn’t only slow recovery, but forces the patient to be readmitted to the hospital for emergency treatment. In many cases, victims are forced to endure multiple hospital visits.
- The need for additional surgery— as these infections are more difficult to treat, surgery may be required to debride the affected area and repair damaged caused by the bacteria and immune response. In one case, a victim required 15 surgeries to treat an infection when receiving a hip replacement.
- The need for amputation— when medicines and other surgical methods will not suffice, amputation becomes the only other option for handling the spread of infection. This is often a catastrophic solution, but is the only way some patients can survive.
- Permanent physical impairment— sometimes the infection can result in severe injuries that have no treatment and leave the patient unable to enjoy life as he or she was once able.
- Death— deep tissue infections or infections of the joints may spread to other areas of the body or find their way into the blood. When this occurs, the patient can die if he or she does not receive treatment in time.
Thousands of patients are now coming forward with lawsuits against 3M claiming that the company did not heed legitimate safety concerns over its products and failed to warn doctors and the public about the same risks. If you have been injured following a surgical procedure because you developed an infection, we may be able to help you recover compensation for your expenses, lost wages and more.
Contact the Drug Law Center today to arrange a free case review with one award-winning winning Bair Hugger injury attorneys so that you can learn more about your rights and the legal options that are available. This will allow us to gather the information we need to investigate your claim while helping you understand what you can expect from the legal process. We work solely on a contingency basis, so you will never need to worry about paying upfront retainer fees or taking on legal costs and we will only accept payment if and when we secure compensation on your behalf.
Lawsuits Filed Against 3M and Bair Huggar
Across the country, millions of surgical procedures are performed every year that implement the use of a Bair Hugger Therapy blanket. Despite concerns raised from the very inventor of the blanket over an increased infection rate, over 80% of hospitals continue to use the device. The Bair Hugger injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are helping victims find the justice that they are seeking by holding the manufacturer of these blankets accountable for the injuries that have resulted from infections brought on by the use of these forced air warming blankets.
Inventor Advocates Against Continued Use of Product
Dr. Scott Augustine invented the Bair Hugger Therapy blanket system in the 1980s, and it first reached the market in 1988, having been involved in 180 million surgeries since then. When his research suggested that there was an increased infection rate among patients undergoing operations where this technology was implemented, he did the right thing and published his findings with the recommendation that the product be recalled. The response from 3M was that his research amounted to no more than fearmongering and their effort to discredit Augustine has been considered negligent by many of the plaintiffs filing lawsuits.
The law states that medical device manufacturers are required to market safe products and to inform healthcare providers and the public of any risks that are linked to their products so that educated decisions can be made between patients and their doctors. The plaintiffs filing lawsuits have stated the following about 3M.
- The company failed to warn of potential risks— while surgery always comes with the potential for error and infection, 3M deliberately hid information from doctors and patients that would help them mitigate these risks and to decide whether the benefits were worth the risks.
- Misrepresentation— the fact that the inventor of the Bair Hugger Therapy blanket was repeatedly ignored and discredited does not bode well for 3M, as it is evidence that the company misrepresented its claims regarding the safety of its products.
- 3M deserves punitive damages— the difference between compensatory and punitive damages is that punitive damages are meant to make an example and to deter companies from acting in a similar manner. Plaintiffs believe that the level of deliberate misrepresentation here warrants the issuance of punitive damages.
Current Lawsuits Filed by People With Bair Huggar Complaints
People are still coming forward with lawsuits against the makers of the Bair Hugger Therapy blanket. Following some key cases set for trial.
- Tommy Watson needed to endure 15 revision surgeries after receiving a hip replacement. This was due to a deep joint infection he developed after the initial hip replacement and he has since needed to have the implant removed due to complications. Since he suffered irreparable damage to his leg, he is looking to recover more than $1 million in compensation.
- Barbara Libby has filed a lawsuit after a deep joint infection required her to ensure seven surgeries to address the infection following her initial procedure. She is now permanently disabled and seeking damages on the ground that 3M misled the FDA, doctors and the public about the air quality levels tied to the devices.
- Timothy Johnson is seeking punitive damages after a total knee arthroplasty was followed by a deep joint infection. He says that 3M was fully aware of the risks involved in the procedure, but failed to warn his healthcare provider. He ultimately needed to have his leg amputated from the knee down and will need to cope with his injuries for the rest of his life.
Despite the numerous lawsuits being filed, 3M continues to assert that the Bair Hugger blanket systems are completely safe. The company has also refuted Dr. Scott Augustine’s warnings by claiming he has a personal vendetta against the company, when he is merely hoping to prevent future injuries and save lives. This is why we are inviting any and all victims who have been injured to come forward so that we can help ensure that others do not need to suffer a similar fate.
Let Us Review Your Bair Huggar Infection Case for Free
The Drug Law Center specializes in helping people who have been injured due to medical device liability and we have been able to secure compensation for thousands of people. If you have developed an infection following a procedure that implemented the use of a Bair Hugger blanket, we are confident that we can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries and to see justice served as repayment for 3M’s gross negligence.
Contact us today to arrange your free consultation with one of our award winning Bair Hugger injury attorneys so that we can gather the information we need to get to the bottom of your claim. We will answer all of your questions about the legal process and let you know what options you have so that you can decide how you want to proceed. We promise that our services come free of charge if we should fail to secure compensation on your behalf for any reason at all.