August 3, 2015 — A man who developed a severe infection after a hip replacement has filed a lawsuit against 3M, maker of the Bair Hugger forced-air surgical warming blanket.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on July 25 in federal court in Minnesota against 3M Company and its subsidiary, Arizant Healthcare (Case No. 0:15-cv-03139).
The plaintiff, William Lichlyter, is a resident of Michigan who underwent hip replacement surgery in August 2012. He subsequently developed an infection that required three additional surgeries — removal of the implant, cleaning the hip and dead tissue in his leg, and excision of most of his thigh muscle. He continues to suffer from limited mobility.
Lichlyter blamed his infection on the Bair Hugger. According to the lawsuit:
“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.”
The inventor of the Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, told the New York Times in 2010 that hospitals should stop using it. Even so, the devices remain widely used — especially for hip replacements and knee replacements.