The Bair Hugger warming blanket has been adopted for use by thousands of hospitals and surgical theatres since the medical device was first brought to market in 1987. The Bair Hugger was a response to the need for keeping a patient warm during surgery in a cooled operating theatre important for maintaining a sterile environment and for keeping surgical staff alert during sometimes long procedures. There was also concern, prior to 1987, about the impact on core body temperature resulting from the surgical site being exposed to cooled air.
The Bair Hugger blanket is warmed from heated air generated from a heater and blower unit usually situated at the floor. Plaintiffs bringing a Bair Hugger lawsuit have alleged a flawed design, noting that the primary sterile field in most operating theatres is designed to be at, and above the operating table. Bacteria and various pathogens which may creep into an operating theatre are mostly confined to the floor and out of harm’s way from the sterile field.
The typical Bair Hugger Warming Blanket lawsuit, however, notes that drawing heated air from the floor into the Bair Hugger warming blanket also risks capturing floor-level pathogens and transporting them to the surgical site.
Court documents assert that joint replacements, such as knee and hip replacement procedures, are particularly susceptible to infection.
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In spite of the existence of newer technology – a warming blanket warmed by electric current (essential, an electric blanket) rather than forced air – thousands of hospitals in the US continue to deploy the Bair Hugger warming blanket system. Data suggests millions of surgical procedures have been performed in the time since the Bair Hugger was first brought to market in the late 1980s.
Many a 3M warming blanket lawsuit is housed In Re: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Products Liability Litigation MDL No. 2666, in US District Court, District of Minnesota.