Over 550 lawsuits have been filed by people who were injured after a 3M Bair Hugger was used in their surgery. The reported injuries include antibiotic-resistant infections, amputations, 3rd-degree burns, revision surgeries, and other complications.
3M Company and its Arizant Healthcare subsidiary sell the Bair Hugger, a blanket that is used on patients who are anesthetized during surgery. The system consists of a heater, a blower that forces air through a hose, and a blanket that is draped over the patient.
What is the problem?
Lawsuits have already been filed by people who reported the following injuries:
- Antibiotic-resistant infection
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Hip implant infection
- Knee implant infection
- 3rd-degree burns
- And more
In 2010, the inventor of the 3M Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, told the New York Times that his invention is a danger to surgical patients receiving implant devices like artificial heart valves and joints. The forced air, he says, can potentially spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.
Knee Implant & Hip Implant Infection Lawsuits
Joint infections are very serious complications because they occur deep inside the body. Treatment involves intensive antibiotics, surgery to remove the infected implant, debridement of infected tissues, and another surgery to implant a new artificial joint.
The 3M Bair Hugger is routinely used during hip replacement and knee replacement surgeries. A growing number of lawsuits blame the Bair Hugger for causing deep joint infections. According to one lawsuit (PDF):
“This escaped air creates air flow currents that flow against the downward air flow of the operating room. As this warmed air rises, it deposits bacteria from the floor of the surgical room into the surgical site.”
Amputation and MRSA Infection Lawsuit
A man from Texas has filed a lawsuit (PDF) blaming his infection on a 3M Bair Hugger. After a routine knee replacement went wrong, he developed an antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection and had to have his leg amputated. Click here to read more.
3M Bair Hugger Burn Injury Lawsuit
Burn injuries can occur when the hose is disconnected from the blanket and hot air is blown directly on a patient. The risk of burn injuries increases for patients with poor circulation. In one case report (PDF), hot air up to 110ºF caused 3rd-degree burns on a healthy 40 year-old woman. Even after plastic surgery and skin grafts, she was left with permanent scarring. She filed a lawsuit and received a $250,000 settlement from the hospital.