During a joint replacement surgery, a device known as Bair Hugger may be used to help keep the patient’s body temperature stable. Bair Hugger is a forced-air warming device that has unfortunately been linked to an increased risk of a contracting a deep joint infection. As a result, several lawsuits have been filed against the device’s manufacturer, 3M.
5 Important Questions Relating to the Bair Hugger Lawsuits
The following are answers to five important questions relating to the Bair Hugger lawsuits:
Are plaintiffs alleging that Bair Hugger caused their infections?
Yes. In at least two of the lawsuits filed against 3M, it is alleged that Bair Hugger warming caused their deep joint infections after receiving joint replacement surgery. The plaintiffs further allege that Bair Hugger picked up germs from the operating room floor and blew them directly onto the joint replacement device. One plaintiff asserts that he required 15 additional surgeries as a result of his infection. The plaintiffs further accuse 3M of having known about the danger of infection for several years without warning patients or the medical community.
Have studies shown that Bair Hugger use may possibly lead to infection?
Yes. At least five different studies have shown that forced-air warming devices may possibly contaminate the sterile field with the air from the surgical room floor. This air is often filled with bacteria.
How has 3M responded to the allegations against it relating to Bair Hugger?
In one case, 3M denied any liability. The company argued that it was not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries because it had informed the plaintiff’s doctors of all potential risks. The company also continues to attack the validity of the independent, peer-reviewed research relating to the link between use of Bair Hugger warming devices and the development of deep joint infections.
Do some studies show that Bair Hugger use is safe?
Despite what the company may want you to believe, this statement is misleading. Studies have proven that Bair Hugger is an effective warming solution that has been used for more than 20 years. However, these older studies did not examine the safety of forced-air warming during orthopedic surgery. Instead, these studies focused on soft-tissue surgeries. This is important—because there is a difference between soft tissue surgical infections and deep joint infections.
What is the significance between infections developed during orthopedic implant surgery and those developed during soft tissue surgeries?
The difference is significant because forced air warming devices have been shown to reduce soft-tissue surgical infections. However, they have also been linked to an increased likelihood of a patient developing a deep joint infection following an orthopedic implant surgery. When bacteria lands on a prosthetic implant, it can secrete a coating of biofilm that protects it from antibodies and antibiotics. When bacteria lands in soft tissue, however, it cannot form this protective biofilm coating. The bacteria can be treated with antibiotics and is susceptible to attack from the body’s immune system. As a result, a single airborne germ can cause a deep infection of a joint implant in a way that it cannot when the germ lands on soft tissue. Forced-air warming devices increase airborne contamination, thereby increasing the chance of bacteria landing on the new implant, creating biofilm, and leading to a devastating infection.
We May Be Able to Help You
If you or a loved one suffered an infection after a hip or knee replacement surgery, it is important to act quickly. We can help you obtain the compensation that you deserve. To learn more, we encourage you to reach out today.