Patients Who Received Joint Surgery Should Know About the 3M Bair Hugger
If you or a loved one has undergone joint surgery (such as a total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty), your doctors or surgeons may have used the 3M Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System on you during your procedure without your knowledge.
In order to prevent hypothermia and stabilize body temperature, hospitals often use the 3M Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System to warm the patient before, during, or immediately after surgery.
But several studies have shown that using the 3M Bair Hugger can increase the risk of developing serious, even deadly infections, including:
- MRSA (staph infections)
- Intra-joint problems.
Even the device’s inventor, Dr. Scott Augustine now states that his forced-air patient warming blanket can and does increase patients’ risk of infection due to the spread of harmful contaminants through the air while warming them.
What Is the Bair Hugger?
The Bair Hugger is a patient warming device manufactured by 3M.
Surgical patients cannot regulate their body temperature while under anesthesia. Unless their body is kept warm and at a stable temperature, they can develop hypothermia and even die.
In order to keep them warm and prevent hypothermia, there are a number of warming devices used for surgery. The Bair Hugger is one such warming device.
How Does the Bair Hugger Work?
The Bair Hugger warms the patient through a system of forced, warm air:
- A heating unit draws in air and warms it
- The warm air is forced through an attachable, snap-fit hose
- The hose connects to a surgical warming blanket or warming gown wrapped around the surgical patient
- The blanket or gown regulates the patient’s body temperature while allowing doctors access to the patient’s incision sites
- The system has a built-in hour meter that allows for temperature adjustments
Where Is The Bair Hugger Used?
The Bair Hugger is the warming device most often used in hospitals. It is estimated to be used in roughly 80% of hospitals over 160 million times.
It can be easily attached with a tube to hospital gowns, post-operative blankets, and other items to regulate patient temperature.
The Bair Hugger heating device is lightweight and portable, and is meant to be moved throughout a hospital or surgical center. It is used on different patients.
Health Dangers of Using the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System
Numerous lawsuits have already been filed that allege the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System does not properly contain the warmed, forced air.
The Bair Hugger can be contaminated by infectious airborne bacteria
If the Bair Hugger is contaminated, it may circulate bacteria or other pathogens into the air wherever else it is used.
Due to its portability, the Bair Hugger’s heating unit is rarely cleaned
The Bair Hugger can be used before, during and after surgery. So Bair Huggers are commonly carried to various areas of a hospital. They are often used on more than one patient or procedure without being disinfected or even cleaned in between.
That means a Bair Hugger heating device may be blowing unclean and unfiltered air throughout the hospital, even into the surgical arena.
When the air contains contagious pathogens, patients contract severe infections. These infections are particularly dangerous when they occur deep within the patient’s joints.
Many Surgical Patients Who Used the Bair Hugger Have Infections
Thousands of patients who were draped in the Bair Hugger have developed health problems associated with infection.
These infections often require other costly and painful surgeries. Sometimes additional joint replacement surgeries are necessary. Some patients even need cement antibiotic spacers to be placed in their bodies to prevent more damage. Among the infections contracted by patients on whom a Bair Hugger were used:
MRSA (Staph Infections)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Known as MRSA for short, this health condition is the cause of numerous infections throughout the body.
Because hospitals have so many sick patients, many are filled with bacteria and other pathogens. That is why MRSA is typically contracted in hospitals, especially by patients who have stayed a long time and those with open wounds, like surgical patients.
MRSA can be deadly if left untreated.
Unlike most other staph infections, MRSA is particularly hard to treat with antibiotics. Patients with MRSA often have to face life-altering results, including amputation.
Sepsis is a health complication brought on by infection.
Sepsis can cause inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation can result in severe damage to the body’s organ systems. In more severe cases, sepsis can lead to complete organ failure and even death.
If sepsis turns into septic shock, the patient’s blood pressure can drop to dangerously low levels. Severely low blood pressure can result in death.
People who have weaker immune systems are more likely to contract sepsis. But it can happen to anyone.
Sepsis Treatment usually requires in-patient hospital treatment:
- It must be treated early with strong, intravenous fluids.
- Sepsis treatment usually involves multiple strong antibiotics that can take a toll on the patient’s body.
- Even with treatment, sepsis can result in severe, permanent damage or even death.
Bacterial Bone or Joint Infection
A bacterial bone or joint infection is also referred to as septic or bacterial arthritis. Such infections are extremely serious.
Joint replacement patients can have develop a joint infection deep inside. This can cause severe bone damage and a quick weakening of the cartilage surrounding and protecting the joint.
This type of arthritis can lead to:
- Loss of motion
- Extreme and Ongoing Pain
- Swelling / redness around the affected joint
- Additional complicated surgeries
Many of these infected patients believe they were infected with MRSA, sepsis or bone and joint infections when the Bair Hugger was used during some stage of their surgery.
The manufacturer 3M has continued to deny these claims.
But the inventor of the Bair Hugger warming device, Dr. Augustine has defended the patients and their claims:
We studied this extensively for about 18 months. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the waste heat rises every single time. This was reported before 3M even bought the company.
3M can say that it doesn’t happen. … But when you are going against a basic law of physics, it’s kind of an absurd thing to say.
Joint Surgery Patients Allegedly Injured By The Bair Hugger Warming Device
One patient allegedly contracted MRSA from bacteria that had blown up from the floor during the operation through the Bair Hugger device. The condition resulted in a leg amputation.
A 70-year-old patient allegedly developed a deep joint infection from bacteria via the Bair Hugger. The infection required 15 additional surgeries to cure.
Apart from these, infections caused by more unusual pathogens are also sometimes found.
Symptoms To Watch For If You The Bair Hugger Warming System Was Used On You
Do not ignore any symptoms of potential infection if you were a surgical patient exposed to the Bair Hugger warming system:
- Continued chills/night sweats
- Excessive heat, warmth and/or swelling at the wound site
- Frequent fevers
- Draining at the site of the wound
Patients must be aware of these symptoms and seek immediate medical attention for suspected infection.
Patients who already suffer from certain medical conditions or those who are immunosuppressed may be at greater risk for infection.
- This includes those with Diabetes, HIV, Cancer and other similar ailments.
It is crucial to take action if you have had joint replacement surgery, you are unsure whether a Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System was used, and you have experienced any of the symptoms/conditions of infection listed above, or have had additional surgeries as the result of infection.
In addition, infections deep within the joint may not be found until long after the initial joint surgery.
Patients should be aware that infections found upon follow-up surgeries as a result of device failure may be related to infections developed after use of the Bair Hugger during the initial joint surgery. Some patients endure years of pain, multiple joint replacements and surgeries, and long courses of hospital administered antibiotics as a result of severe joint infections.
Important Questions to Ask After Undergoing Joint Replacement Surgery
- When did you undergo joint surgery? Where? What kind?
- Did you suffer from an infection or other complications after surgery?
- How soon after surgery did you experience complications?
- What types of complications or infection did you experience?
- What were your symptoms?
- Who treated you for these complications?
- What types of treatment did you undergo/require?
- Did you have any long term symptoms or complications?
- Did your symptoms or complications affect your ability to engage in work or your usual activities?
- If you have been unable to perform work, for how long?
- Did you incur medical bills as a result of these complications?
- Did you require additional surgery or additional medical treatment?
Have You Been Injured By Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System?
When a person or company injures another person because of carelessness or ignoring risks, the injured person can recover compensation for their injuries.
Judges and juries look at the degree and duration of physical and financial injuries to a victim. These are known as damages.
The law permits recovery for different types of damages:
- Any pain and mental suffering you experienced in the past and will likely experience in the future;
- The impact your injuries had on your physical and mental health and general well-being;
- Past or future medical expenses related to your injuries;
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity caused by your injuries;
- If the drug caused a wrongful death, any losses experienced by your family, such as loss of love, affection and companionship (often referred to as loss of consortium).
If you or a loved one has been injured by using Bair Hugger, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. You need experienced attorneys on your side.
A Texas Personal Injury Law Firm That Knows What You’re Up Against
Bair Hugger Injury Lawsuits Can Be Very Complex to Prove
Winning a mass tort lawsuit for injuries caused by dangerous pharmaceuticals usually involves proving that the manufacturers did not properly warn people taking it of the potential risks.
That can include investigating medical studies, corporate publications and using testimony from experts on how the medication caused an injury. This is not easily done, particularly when drug companies show up with an army of lawyers.
But battling bullies is what Justinian & Associates does.
We Are Warriors For The Injured
We have an extensive knowledge of that area of law experience handling.
Our Clients Include Victims Injured By The Bair Hugger Warming System
We have successfully received compensation for clients who were hurt and experienced DVT, PE, heart attacks, or strokes while on testosterone replacement therapy or within thirty days after.
We have the legal knowledge, the experience, the resources, experience and trained investigators to take on adversaries of any size.
All we do is fight for injured victims. Our only goal is justice for our clients, whatever that means for them. And we do not accept defeat. Unless we get you money for your injuries, you don’t pay us a dime.
The Time to Act is Now
Your rights can be lost if you wait.
There are laws that limit how much time you have to file a lawsuit after being injured. They are known as statutes of limitation. They may apply to your lawsuit to recover for your Bair Hugger injuries. The countdown may already have begun.
Even if you’re unaware whether or not a Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System was used before, during or after surgery, don’t worry.
The legal team at Justinian and Associates has years of experience dealing with cases like Bair Hugger. We’re here for you and will do everything we can to help you obtain all necessary information and assist you with your claim.
The statute of limitations (how long you have to file a case) may already be counting down. Don’t let it expire!
Call, text or email us for a free consultation, with no obligation. Speak to a Texas personal injury attorney from Justinian & Associates (not a “screener” or paralegal) to understand your rights.