Houston Bair Hugger Suit
Patients across the country have filed a Bair Hugger Lawsuit against 3M, the manufacturer of the Bair Hugger, alleging that the widely used surgical blanket caused severe infections after their surgery and that the manufacturer did not disclose risks accompanying its use. Joint replacement and heart surgery patients are vulnerable to additional injury and infection. In some cases, infections have required additional surgeries and even amputations.
Bair Hugger and Its Uses
The Bair Hugger is a warming blanket, designed by Dr. Scott Augustine and manufactured by the Arizant Corporation until it was purchased by 3M in 2010. It is used on patients during surgery to aid in regulating body temperature and preventing hypothermia, a risk for any patient under anesthesia. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 in use at hospitals and surgical clinics all across the United States.
The Bair Hugger works by using forced air warming, in which heated air is blown through tubes connected to a disposable blanket either draped over or placed under the patient’s skin. This method is claimed to be both more efficient and effective than applying heated or electric blankets.
Bair Hugger Risks
According to numerous lawsuits filed in connection with the Bair Hugger, as the warmed air created by the Bair Hugger rises, it disrupts the sterility of the surgical environment and deposits bacteria from the floor of the surgical room into the surgical site. Sometime between 2002 and 2009, the makers of the Bair Hugger reduced the efficiency of the air filtering system, which in turn reduced the overall safety of the Bair Hugger. As a result, the air pushed out by the Bair Hugger could become contaminated with pathogens that can then come into contact with the patient’s open surgical site, greatly increasing the risk of serious infections, such as sepsis or MRSA.
The risks associated with the Bair Hugger are apparently so serious, the inventor of the device said that he did not want hospitals to use it. In a 2010 New York Times article, Dr. Augustine stated the Bair Hugger is “a danger” to joint replacement and heart patients because of the forced air spreading bacteria and causing infections.
These infections have required patients to undergo extended hospital stays and additional surgeries to treat bacterial infection. When infections occur in joint replacement surgeries, it is possible that the patient could be required to have an additional revision surgery to replace the joint replacement in order to get rid of the infection. Some serious infections have resulted in amputations of affected extremities. Infections resulting from drug-resistant bacteria, like MRSA, could lead to death.
Compensation Entitlement for Bair Hugger
Manufacturers of medical devices like the Bair Hugger have a duty to provide safe products. In addition, manufacturers must warn hospitals and users of any known dangers associated with the product. If they fail to fulfill either of these obligations, they can be found liable if a patient is injured. If you or someone you know has suffered complications, additional surgeries, and/or amputations resulting from an infection after use of the Bair Hugger, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of ability to work
- Pain, suffering, scarring, or disfigurement
- Mental anguish
If a device manufacturer acted so recklessly that it could be considered malice, punitive damages might be awarded against the company to punish and deter them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. In current cases involving the Bair Hugger, punitive damages are being sought against the manufacturer.
If you or someone you know suffered additional injuries as a result of the Bair Hugger being used in medical treatment, contact Doyle LLP Trial Lawyers for a consultation and evaluation of your case. Our firm has experience handling pharmaceutical injury claims and might be able to help you recoup any losses. You can also visit our FAQ page for answers to any additional questions you may have.