July 29, 2015 — A person from Texas has filed a lawsuit claiming the Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket made by 3M Co. caused a life-threatening infection after routine hip replacement surgery.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed by plaintiff Tawas Reed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Case No. 0:15-cv-03143) on July 25.
Reed had hip replacement surgery in June 2014. Unfortunately, bacterial contamination during the surgery led to an antibiotic-resistant infection with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Two additional surgeries were required to clean out the hip and remove the implant. More than a year later, Reed still suffers from limited mobility.
The Bair Hugger consists of a forced-air heater that blows hot air into a single-use surgical blanket, which is draped over the patient. The lawsuit claims it is defective and unreasonably dangerous:
“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 lawsuit also claims the manufacturers have known about the problem since 2009, but failed to improve the design or warn about the risk of spreading infections. It further alleges that safety was reduced when a filtration system was redesigned sometime between 2002 and 2009.