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Bair Hugger Forced Air-Warming Blankets
Bair Hugger Forced Air-Warming Blankets

I focus on achieving favorable results with dedication & hard-work.- Griffin O'Hanlon

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Bair Hugger Forced Air-Warming Blankets are Linked to Infections and Lawsuits

Virginia Bair Hugger Injury Lawyers Fight for Your Rights

The last thing you expect when you go into a hospital for hip or knee replacement surgery is to get an infection from a blanket meant to keep you warm. However, this is the claim made by thousands of former patients who are suing 3M Co, the manufacturer of the “Bair Hugger.” These are serious infections that require serious legal representation. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers our experienced team takes on the big medical device companies in lawsuits.

If you or a loved one has been infected by a Bair Hugger blanket, you should not wait to call a lawyer. The clock is ticking to join a mass tort lawsuit. Please call us today at (757) 455-0077 to discuss your options.

Our Virginia mass tort injury law firm looks out for dangerous medical devices that may harm our clients and the public. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the makers of this blanket used to keep people warm before and during surgery by former patients who said they suffered from serious infections due to its use.

The popular “Bair Hugger” device has been used for decades in a majority of American hospitals but it has come under increased scrutiny after its inventor called for a recall, and some patients claimed serious infections were linked to the product.

What are Bair Hugger Blankets?

Bair Hugger is a warming system that maintains a patient's body temperature before and during surgery. The blankets were designed to reduce bleeding and speed up a patient’s recovery time. They maintain a patient’s body temperature as close as possible to normal during the course of surgery.

Bair Hugger blankets are like a forced-air heater. Warm air is blasted down a flexible hose and pumped into a blanket that’s placed over the patient who is undergoing surgery. As well as warming air over the patient’s body, air is released by the Bair Hugger under the surgical table during the operation.

The device was invented by Dr. Scott D. Augustine. The surgical equipment includes warming units, blankets and other accessories. It was originally sold through the company Augustine Biomedical and Design. As many as 180 million patients have used the Bair Hugger since it was introduced in the late 1980s and the technology is used in 80 percent of U.S. hospitals. The present manufacturer, 3M, points out the Bair Hugger is used to prevent hypothermia during medical procedures.

What Kinds of Operations is the Bair Hugger Used For?

The Bair Hugger device is mainly used for hip and knee joint replacement surgery but may be used with other procedures.

The full title of the device is the Bair Hugger Normothermia System. It is used during all three phases of orthopedic surgery- before an operation, during and after. The blankets stabilize the patient’s core temperature before surgey and maintain it during and after the procedure. These blankets have been used on more than 200 million patients since 1987.

What Problems Have Been Reported With the Bair Hugger?

The lawsuits brought against 3M claim the air pumped out under the table where a patient is being treated can spread bacteria which infects the patient’s wound during surgery. There have been cases in which patients claim the air appears to have caused a serious infection in their knee or hip including the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or sepsis. If infections end up deep in a patient’s joints they can be very difficult to treat.

MRSA is sometimes called the “super bug.” It’s considerably tougher to treat than most other strains of staphylococcus aureus and it’s resistant to many of the antibiotics that are used in hospitals.

Common symptoms of MRSA

  • Mild skin infections such as boils and sores
  • Serious skin infections
  • Infections on the lungs or urinary tract
  • MRSA can be deadly. The University of Chicago states every year about 90,000 Americans suffer from MRSA and about 20,000 die. Common Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis affects more than a million Americans a year. It’s a potentially life-threatening condition caused by a massive immune response to infection. Chemicals are released into a patient’s bloodstream to fight infection trigger widespread inflammation.

People affected by sepsis may suffer.

  • Inflammation that can lead to organ damage.
  • Blood clotting that reduces the flow of blood to a patient’s limbs and other internal organs, resulting in a lack of oxygen and nutrients. Organs can fail with fatal consequences.

A life-threatening drop in blood pressure known as septic shock, which quickly triggers the failure of important organs such as the kidneys, lungs and liver, leading to death.

Some patients who claim to have been injured by a Bair-Hugger linked infection report amputations, joint fusion, or revision surgery. Patients who are not able to have a second replacement surgery are usually treated with long-term antibiotics.

Why the Bair Hugger’s Inventor Supports a Recall

Dr. Scott D. Augustine who invented the Bair Hugger more than 20 years ago, says 3M should recall it due to the risk of infections. 3M has disputed the claim.

The doctor from Minnesota warns the warm air process poses a risk to surgical patients who receive implants to their joints and heart valves. Augustine said he is concerned that patients are picking up serious infections. He is expected to provide testimony in forthcoming trials. Today he is the chief executive of a company that uses a device called the HotDog that utilizes conductive heat similar to an electric blanket, rather than forced air as used by the Bair Hugger.

Lawsuits Against the Makers of the Bair Hugger

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against 3M Co. and the number is growing. The patients who are suing say the device circulated contaminants and caused them debilitating and dangerous deep-joint infections.

In 2018, a federal jury in Minneapolis sided with 3M Co. in a lawsuit that claimed the Bair Hugger device caused serious surgical infection in an artificial hip joint. The Minneapolis case was designated a “bellwether,” trial meaning it may help set precedents for subsequent trials. 3M has disputed any link between the Bair Hugger and infections.

Has the FDA Issued a Warning About the Bair Hugger Device?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the first Bair Hugger device in 1987 using the 510 (k) program that allows a medical device to go onto the market without clinical proof it is safe, if it is similar to a device already on the market.

In 2017,  the FDA reviewed available data and research to assess whether the device posed a risk to patients. The FDA recommended continued use of the Bair Hugger but said it would “actively monitor” the situation.

In Jan. 2018, 3M recalled 65,000 warming blankets because of a design defect. The recall was not related to infection risks. It said an issue could lead to dangerous changes in body temperature during surgery.

What You Should Do if You Have Been Infected During Surgery Using the Bear Hugger

Our dangerous devices injury lawyers have helped numerous patients who have been hurt by deadly medical devices and risky surgical procedures. We will ensure that your claim is properly handled among the others that are filed in the mass tort litigation. Just because you are part of a class action does not mean you deserve to be treated like a number. We strive to provide personal service and good communication with patients who we help in mass tort cases, like the ones against the makers of the Bair Hugger.

A product to keep you warm and comfortable after an operation should not make you sick with a MRSA infection that cannot be treated effectively as is claimed in the case of the Bair Hugger. The newest surgical product or post-operative equipment must “first do no harm.” All doctors, hospitals and medical appliance makers must follow this creed and not leave the patient worse off than they found them. Call us at 757.455.0077 or toll free at 866-455-6657 for a free consultation if you have been injured or suffered a serious infection from a medical device. Our Virginia Bair Hugger injury lawyers will leave no stone unturned in our quest for the truth in your injury case.

John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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