July 14, 2015 — A growing number of people are blaming their life-threatening surgical infections on 3M’s Bair Hugger, a hot-air patient warming blanket.
Its inventor, Dr. Scott Augustine, says his invention is a danger to surgical patients receiving implant devices like artificial heart valves and joints. The forced air, he says, can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.
Several patients blame life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infections on the Bair Hugger. One of them is Rosie Bartel, a woman who developed a Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection after a routine knee replacement. She had to have 11 surgeries and part of her leg amputated.
“Hosing” Linked to Burn Hazard
Studies have also found a risk of hot air burns when doctors misuse the Bair Hugger by disconnecting the hose and blowing air directly onto a patient — called “hosing.” The Korean Journal of Anesthesiology published a case report in April 2012 of a 37 year-old woman who was severely burned by this technique.