July 21, 2015 — A man who developed a deep joint infection after a hip replacement has filed a lawsuit claiming 3M’s Bair Hugger, a forced-air warming blanket, is responsible.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed by 70 year-old Tommy Walton, a resident of Texas. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages from the manufacturers of the Bair Hugger, 3M Co. and its subsidiary, Arizant Healthcare.
During hip replacement surgery in March 2011, Walton’s anesthesiologist used the Bair Hugger to keep him warm. The system consists of a portable heater that blows hot air through a hose into a disposable blanket, which is draped over the patient.
According to the lawsuit:
“As this warmed air rises, it deposits bacteria from the floor of the surgical room into the surgical site. Furthermore, the internal airflow paths of Bair Hugger FAW blowers have become contaminated with pathogens.”
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Walton eventually needed 15 surgeries and had to have his artificial hip replaced. In 2010, the inventor of the Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, said his invention is a danger to surgical patients because it can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.