Patients trust their surgeons to use the safest medical devices during every surgical procedure. One of the more common devices are thermal heating/cooling blankets that help to maintain a patient’s body temperature during surgery. As recently as 2016, a panel of physicians under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration acknowledged that “the potential for transmission of infection … was not recognized during device design, and therefore it was not accounted for in validation of cleaning and disinfection procedures” of early versions of that device.
The attorneys at Showard Law Firm have represented clients who have suffered from preventable post-surgical infections and surgical complications. We have the knowledge and experience to demonstrate the connection between the use of surgical forced air warming blankets, such as the “Bair Hugger” blankets, and surgical infections that can require patients to undergo additional surgeries or that can cause permanent impairment of even the healthiest patients.
Origin of the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Lawsuits
Forced air warming blankets, including the Bair Hugger device, have been the centerpiece of medical device lawsuits since at least 2013, when a patient in Texas alleged that he contracted a dangerous joint infection following his surgeon’s use of one of those devices. In 2014, two other patients suffered leg amputations due to severe infections that were purportedly connected to the use of a Bair Hugger blanket. To date, more than 4,000 warming blanket lawsuits have been filed.
What are forced air warming blankets?
The Bair Hugger and other forced air warming blankets are single-use devices that are draped over a patient and that contain a number of open channels. During surgery, a warming unit pushes warm air through the channels. That air exits the channels through microperforations and passes over the patient’s skin to maintain his or her body temperature during a surgical procedure.
Forced air warming and surgical site infection risks
The initial lawsuits against 3M Company alleged that the forced warm air, which circulates through the device and over a surgical patient’s skin, can spread contaminants that cause infections. Plaintiff’s attorneys, including the lawyers at the Showard Law Firm, are currently investigating these and other connections between the device’s potential to contaminate the sterile field that physicians must maintain during surgical procedures.
FDA Bair Hugger investigations and Bair Hugger recalls
To date, 3M has issued no product recalls due to those perceived risks. The company did issue a Bair Hugger recall in 2018 as a result of possible air flow blockage problems with some models of the device. That blockage can lead to problems with hypothermia, but not to an increased infection risk.
Consolidation of Warming Blanket Lawsuits into Multidistrict Litigation
No class action litigation is pending against 3M company over Bair Hugger infection risks, and class action litigation is unlikely due to the factual differences alleged in the multiple warming blanket lawsuits that have been or will be filed around the country. The volume of those lawsuits has led the Federal Courts to consolidate the cases in the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis. That Court expects to try at least two of those cases in 2018, with the expectation that the verdict in those cases will guide the verdicts in other litigation.
Do you qualify to file a Bear Hugger Lawsuit?
Surgical patients may not know the full details of all of the devices that their surgeons utilize during a surgical procedure. If you have experienced a post-surgical infection following a surgical procedure, you should contact an experienced medical device attorney to investigate the details of your surgery and determine if the device was negligently manufactured. Your attorney will examine the medical records of your procedure to uncover those elements that created a heightened risk for surgical site infections. Attorneys will attempt to prove that the surgeon failed to control those risks and/or the devices that the surgeon used were unsafe under the circumstances.
Free legal consultation for those harmed by forced air warming blankets
The lawyers at the Showard Law Firm in Tucson represent clients that have suffered infections and injuries in surgeries and medical procedures. We are following every development in the growing number of 3M Bair Hugger lawsuits and stand poised and ready to represent individuals who have contracted infections and experienced other complications from forced air warming blankets.
Please call us to speak with one of our knowledgeable medical device attorneys, or see our website for more information on how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve when a Bair Hugger blanket has led to post-surgery infection complications.
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