Bair Hugger Device

Bair Hugger: Complications & Lawsuits

The Bair Hugger is a forced-air warming blanket system utilized to keep patients warm and maintain body temperature during surgery. Bair Hugger system was approved by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987. Currently, 3M owns the Bair Hugger brand of forced-air warming systems.

While studies have discovered benefits to keeping patients warm during surgery, the creator of the Bair Hugger now claims the forced-air blankets may increase risk of infection.

Why is hypothermia during surgery risky?

Anesthesia used during surgery may increase the risk of hypothermia. Perioperative hypothermia can increase the risk of surgical site infection, cardiac events, and other complications. Preventing hypothermia during surgery may also reduce the length of the hospital stay.

Forced air heating blankets such as Bair Hugger can reduce these and additional risks by keeping the patient warmer during operation.  However, as some evidence indicates, these devices are not without risks.

How do hospitals use the Bair Hugger system?

Surgical teams use the Bair Hugger forced-air heating system to stop perioperative hypothermia.  The maker has revised the initial system into a three-stage hypothermia alternative.  Hospitals should use Bair Hugger devices in three scenarios:

  • Pre-operative warming with blankets or gowns.
  • Operative warming with drapes and blankets.
  • Temperature monitoring during pre-operative, operative, and post-operative phases.

The blankets, drapes, and gowns connect to an air hose that pumps heated air into the blanket and around the patient. It is this forced-air system, though, that may increase infection risk during surgery.

Bair Hugger May Increase Infection Risk

In 2010, Dr. Scott Augustine, the inventor of Bair Hugger, openly cautioned of the risk of surgical site infection associated with these devices, especially during implant surgeries such as:

  • Knee implants
  • Hip implants
  • Artificial heart valves

Dr. Augustine claims that the device could disrupt circulating air in the operating room. The device may create a convection current that brings contaminants on the operating room floor up to the patient. This may increase the risk of surgical site infection.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, states an increased risk of infection associated with the Bair Hugger device. In the study, the researchers ran experiments using mannequins and examined patient records, discovering a 3.1 percent rate of infection with the Bair Hugger system compared to 0.8% using conductive fabrics, like the new HotDog apparatus that Dr. Augustine developed.

(3M claims Dr. Augustine biased this research to market his new device, stating that the data isn’t h3 sufficient to support the claims of increased risk of infection. 3M has cited other research and clinical trials to maintain to argue the safety of their Bair Hugger device )

The Dangers of Surgical Site Infections

Surgical site infections can lead to longer hospital stays to treat the infection.  Depending on the nature and severity of the infection, some patients require additional surgeries.

For Instance, one current lawsuit states the plaintiff needed 15 revision operations, including removal of the initial hip implant which became infected because of Bair Hugger device.  Another plaintiff states she underwent seven operations after developing a joint infection following a surgery that used the Bair Hugger.

Bair Hugger Lawsuits

Several lawsuits are currently in action against 3M, Arizant (the former manufacturer of Bair Hugger), and several other third parties.

These claims include allegations that both 3M and Arizant were aware of the risks of contaminated airflow and were not forthcoming about the air quality linked with the system.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation designated Minnesota as the central district for a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in 2015. The MDL consolidated the individual lawsuits against Bair Hugger therapy to combine resources. This MDL now contains over 200 individual plaintiffs seeking damages.

Some of the accusations include:

  • Deceptive marketing
  • Covering up study data
  • Undisclosed knowledge of dangers
  • Falsifying air quality data

The MDL has yet to go to trial, and the Minnesota court system expects more plaintiffs to add cases.

Recoverable Damages in Bair Hugger Lawsuits

If effective, plaintiffs who file a lawsuit against 3M, Arizant, or other parties could recover reimbursement for the damages related to infections and other complications related to the Bair Hugger.

Recoverable damages in these cases may include:

  • Additional medical expenses, such as the costs of subsequent surgeries
  • Lost wages while recovering from infections associated with Bair Hugger devices
  • Lost earning potential if an infection affects a plaintiff’s ability to work (at least one patient required amputation after developing an infection)
  • Pain and suffering to cover the physical and emotional pain that the plaintiff experiences
  • Punitive damages, which punish the defendant for its grossly negligent behavior

These are only a few examples.  The value of your case is determined by the effect of the infection or other condition associated with the Bair Hugger device, and also the severity of your injuries.  Review your case with an attorney for a personalized case examination.

Am I eligible to file a claim against Bair Hugger therapy?

There’s crucial evidence regarding the safety of Bair Hugger heating blankets, a few favoring plaintiffs arguing that their injuries are the result of the device. In case you had a surgical operation that used a Bair Hugger device and developed a surgical site infection after the surgery, you may be eligible to join the MDL Learning about your legal rights starts with finding the right attorney. For help finding a lawyer who can help you, call (914) 200-0013.