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Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Blanket

3M Bair Hugger Litigation

For the last several years, forced hot-air warming blankets have been commonly used on patients during hip and knee joint replacement surgery in the operating room.  The Tampa law firm of Alley, Clark & Greiwe is investigating claims of individuals who developed serious infections after being placed under a forced hot air warming blanket like the 3M Bair Hugger system.   In 2013, more than 50,000 Bair Hugger units were in use in the U.S. and Bair Hugger is used in almost all total joint replacement surgeries.

What is Forced-Air Warming?

Forced-air warming systems, fluid warming systems, intravenous fluid warming, and warming blankets often are used during surgery to help maintain a patient’s core body temperature as close to normal as possible and prevent hypothermia.  Studies show that keeping patients warm during surgery causes less bleeding and a faster recovery.

Problems with the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket

With a device like 3M’s Bair Hugger system, which was approved by the FDA in 1998, warm air from a heater/blower is forced into a flexible hose connected to a blanket that is draped over a patient’s body during surgery.  Apparently, the Bair Hugger can take in air from the operating room floor that may contain bacteria and recirculate the contaminated air to a wound site.

The most serious potential problem with utilizing a Bair Hugger warming blanket are deep joint infections, especially in the hip and knee during replacement surgeries.  Common treatments for these infections include a combination of surgical procedures and antibiotic therapy. In severe cases, amputation, joint fusion, or removal of knee or hip implants as well as a two-stage revision surgery may be necessary. Patients who are not candidates for a second surgery are usually treated with long-term antibiotic suppression.

Medical Studies on Bair Hugger

A study in the March 2013 issue of The Bone & Joint Journal indicated waste heat from forced-air warming blankets like the Bair Hugger can increase the temperature and concentration of airborne particles over the surgical site.  Air currents lifted up from the floor can potentially carry contaminated particles from below the operating table into the surgical site. 

An article published in Anesthesia & Analgesia (August 2013) determined that forced-air devices could present a potential risk for infection in prolonged vascular and hip surgery. It said that forced-air warming “was found to establish convection currents that mobilized resident air from nonsterile areas (under the anesthesia drape) upward and into the surgical site.”

Tampa Bair Hugger Attorneys

A number of 3M Bair Hugger injury lawsuits have been filed by patients across the country who had hip or knee replacements and developed deep joint infections.  If you or a loved one developed an infection following hip or knee replacement, please contact a defective medical products attorney at Alley, Clark & Greiwe for important information regarding your legal rights.

Helpful Consumer Links

Click here to read more about the August 2013 study on forced air warming devices.

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