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3M Bair Hugger Surgical Blanket Lawsuits Consolidated into MDL

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Santa Clara, CABair Hugger surgical warming blanket lawsuits continue to move forward, with some 70 lawsuits having just been consolidated into a multi district litigation (MDL) to proceed before US District Judge Joan Ericksen.

The Bair Hugger is a forced-air warming blanket designed to keep patients warm during orthopedic surgery. They are also meant to reduce the risk of infections. However, these warming blankets, including the 3M Bair Hugger Warming System, are alleged to be causing infections, as asserted in the lawsuits which were just consolidated into the Bair Hugger MDL.

The Bair Hugger works by blowing hot air through a blanket in order to maintain a patient’s normal body temperature during surgery. According to the lawsuits, however, Bair Hugger disrupts the air ventilation in the operation room, leading to infections, particularly in hip and knee surgeries, which have led to amputations and multiple surgeries. According to the lawsuit, 3M has known of the contamination problem since 2009.

The number of lawsuits against 3M continues to grow, with more than a dozen additional cases filed in Minnesota’s Ramsey County District Court, where Judge William Leary has coordinated the litigation and set the first scheduling conference for December 22.

The Bair Hugger was invented by Dr Scott Augustine, an anesthesiologist, and the FDA approved the device in 1988. But Augustine in 2010 asserted that his device is a danger to surgical patients because the forced air can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections. (He has since designed and promoted another FAW.)

Complications that allegedly can arise due to contamination brought on by use of forced air warming blankets can require the following treatment: additional revision surgeries and longer hospitalization; joint implant removal and revision; physical therapy; placement of an antibiotic spacer in the infected joint; intravenous antibiotic treatment; and amputation.


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