Bair Hugger Lawsuit

Serious complications like deep joint infections, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and sepsis have been linked to the Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket, which is used in more than 80 percent of hospitals across the country.

Recent studies have shown that the device may lead to increased risks for serious infections when used during surgery, particularly for joint replacement procedures.

What is the Bair Hugger?

The Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket is a device used during surgery to help maintain a patient’s body temperature while under anesthesia. The device circulates warm air by use of a hose into a blanket that covers a patient in order to prevent hypothermia and low body temperature complications. Unfortunately, more and more studies are showing that this device blows germs and bacteria directly onto a patient, causing serious infections.

Bair Hugger Inventor Warns of Risks

The inventor of the Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, started urging doctors to stop using the device years ago. After reviewing studies, he commented that it was more than likely contaminants from the operating room floor were becoming airborne and causing serious infections.

When contaminated air is circulated over the surgical site as the Bair Hugger warming blanket does, bacterium lands on the prosthetic implants and secretes a coating of biofilm to protect it from antibiotics that would normally fight off infection. This biofilm allows acute amounts of germs to rapidly cause deep joint implant infections.

The Serious Risks Associated with Joint Infection

Approximately one out of every 100 patients develops an infection after joint replacement surgery, and many studies link this number to the use of the Bair Hugger. A study published in The Bone & Joint Journal found that the Bair Hugger warming blanket contained 2,000+ contaminants as compared to similar devices.

Because these types of infections are serious and grow rapidly, multiple surgeries may be required to wash out the surrounding joints and tissues. The prosthetic implant will need to be replaced and a patient will need heavy doses of antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading.

Signs and Symptoms of a Joint Infection

If you have recently undergone a joint replacement surgery or a surgery that involved the use of the Bair Hugger warming blanket, below are some common signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of an infection.

  • Increased Pain/ Unusual Stiffness Around the Joint
  • Increased Fatigue
  • Fevers, Chills, and Sweats
  • Loosening of the Prosthesis
  • Joint Swelling
  • Warmth and Redness Around the Area (also known as Erythema)
  • Wound Drainage or Pus Discharge

Numerous Lawsuits Filed Against 3M

In March 2014, a Kansas man filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Bair Hugger, 3M, after he developed MRSA during a knee replacement surgery, allegedly due to the circulation of bacteria-filled air in the operating room from the Bair Hugger. The victim underwent multiple surgeries and had to have his leg amputated.

Another knee replacement recipient developed the same infection. Since the surgery, she has undergone 11 surgeries, one of which was a partial amputation of the infected leg.

In July 2015, another patient filed a similar lawsuit after he contracted MRSA during a routine hip-replacement surgery, resulting in 15 different surgeries and a lifetime of limited mobility.

These lawsuits claim that 3M knew about the risks for infection but did not warn healthcare providers. Furthermore, the company may have attempted to conceal the data detailing such risks when presenting the Bair Hugger to hospitals.