The manufacturer of the blanket, 3M Co., vigorously defends its safety. It has been used during more than 200 million surgeries since 1987 and no studies can prove that it causes infections, according to 3M.
Critics of the device include its inventor, Dr. Scott Augustine, who now sells a competing patient-warming blanket called the HotDog. He says the Bair Hugger should not be used due to the risk of infection.
He says the problem is that “waste” air from the Bair Hugger rises against the carefully-controlled flow of sterile air in an operating room. In certain conditions, it could create convection currents that pick up non-sterile air.
Dr. Augustine told the Star-Tribune, “There is no question that it’s a true phenomenon. It’s happening. And it’s easy to show. … This product should never be on another orthopedic patient.”