During surgery, the patient’s body needs to be kept at a safe, consistent temperature. When the patient’s body temperature drops below 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she can suffer from perioperative hypothermia, a condition associated with blood loss, an increased risk of infection, and an increased mortality rate.
Various machines exist to regulate patients’ body temperatures during surgery, one of which is the 3M Bair Hugger. Recently, a group of patients who suffered infections after knee and joint replacement surgeries filed a class action defective medical device lawsuit against 3M, alleging that the warming system circulated contaminants through their bodies that caused them to suffer infections. The plaintiffs allege that the Bair Hugger system is unreasonably dangerous because 3M was negligent in its manufacture. According to the claim, 3M failed to properly test the device and did not warn healthcare providers or patients of the risks associated with its use.
What is a Bair Hugger?
The Bair Hugger system was invented in 1987 and since then, has kept patients warm through hundreds of millions of surgeries. The system has two components - the fluid warming system and the Bair Hugger therapy blanket, which delivers forced hot air onto a patient during surgery.
There are many different Bair Hugger models available, including models meant for pediatric patients. The warming system can be placed on the floor or mounted on a pole or bed rail. It has four temperature settings.
How the Bair Hugger Puts Patients at Risk of Infection
The system works by forcing hot air across a patient’s body to keep him or her warm during surgery. The air reaches the patient through a woven blanket that relies on a fluid warming system.
When the system contains contaminants, the patient can suffer an infection. Patients who undergo knee and hip replacements have an increased risk of being infected. Additional risk factors include:
- Immune system deficiencies like HIV;
- Peripheral vascular disease, which causes poor circulation in the feet and hands; and
- Undergoing immunosuppressive treatments like chemotherapy.
The infection can cause the patient to suffer fatigue, stiffness in the affected area, swelling, fever, chills, and night sweats.
When a patient suffers an infection due to contaminants spread through a Bair Hugger, he or she can require antibiotics and surgery to recover. In some cases, the patient must have an infected limb amputated or undergo a joint fusion.
Work with an Experienced Arlington Heights Defective Medical Device Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered an infection or another type of adverse health condition after surgery where a Bair Hugger was used to keep you warm, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your damages related to the infection through a defective medical device claim. To discuss your unique case in greater detail, contact our team of defective medical device lawyers at Newland & Newland, LLP today to schedule your initial consultation in our office. We serve clients in the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas.
(image courtesy of Piron Guillaume)