The Bair Hugger Surgical Device is Linked to Serious Infections
There are a number of medical devices that seemed like a good idea at the time but proved to be devastating for patients. However, it’s rare for the inventor of a product to want it off the market.
This is the case with the Bair Hugger, a device that works like a forced-air heater in that it carries warmed air through a hose to a special blanket that is draped over a patient during surgery.
The Bair Hugger made its inventor Dr. Scott D. Augustine a fortune. Now he wants it to be taken off the market saying it poses an infection risk to certain patients. The lawsuits are starting to trickle in.
What is the Bair Hugger?
The Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming System helps patients to maintain proper body temperature during surgery. The system carries warm air to a blanket that is placed over the patient and can lead to a faster recovery.
It is estimated that the Bair Hugger system is use in as many as 80 percent of U.S. hospitals and has been used more than 160 million times. Bair Hugger blankets and gowns were used in 22 million surgeries in 2014 alone.
What Are the Risks of the Bair Hugger?
Research has found using the Bair Hugger could increase the risk of infection during high-risk orthopedic surgeries. The surgeries having the greatest risk of contamination are those involving hip transplants, knee transplants and artificial heart valves.
How the Inventor Has Spoken Out Against the Bair Hugger
Dr. Scott D. Augustine has urged the device’s manufacturers, 3M and Arizant, to recall the products, claiming they are linked to an increased risk for infection during surgeries involving implants.
Two decades ago the anesthesiologist from Minnesota, helped pioneer the idea of keeping a patient warm during surgery, leading to like less bleeding and a faster recovery.
Dr. Augustine now says his invention is a danger to surgical patients who receive implant devices like artificial heart valves and joints. He says the forced air, can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.
Dr. Augustine no longer has a financial stake in the Bair Hugger. He says he has a safer alternative, a warming device that works more like an electric blanket and does not use forced air.
Lawsuits Against the Manufactures of the Bair Hugger
Lawsuits accuse 3M and Arizant of failing to rigorously test Bair Huggers, of not conducting enough post-market testing and surveillance of Bair Huggers and continuing to market Bair Huggers after the manufacturer should have known of the adverse effects.
There is an inherent risk of infection to the patient during surgery but manufacturers have a duty to inform both healthcare professionals and the public of the extent of that risk.
Manufacturers of medical devices are obliged to represent their products accurately and truthfully. The Bair Hugger lawsuits claim 3M and Arizant knowingly and recklessly disregarded the obligation to be truthful, representing Bair Huggers as safe and as safer than alternative patient warming devices.
A lawsuit has been filed in Houston by Tommy Walton, a 70-year-old hip replacement patient. He claims the airflow from the product led to a serious infection.
Walton, who had the surgery in March 2011, stated in the lawsuit that eventually needed 15 surgeries, including removal of the artificial hip. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages.
Walton’s lawsuit claims the air used by the Bair Hugger device was discharged under the surgical table. The claim says it picked up germs that then rose with the heat and was subsequently recirculated into the hip replacement device used by doctors.
The defendants in the lawsuit include 3M, Arizant Healthcare Inc. — the Eden Prairie-based company that makes the Bair Hugger — and a sales representative for both companies who works in Texas. 3M, based in Maplewood, bought Arizant in 2010 for $810 million.
Ramji Law Group represents clients who have been injured or infected by dangerous medical devices such as the Bair Hugger. Call our Houston personal injury lawyers at 713-888-8888 for a consultation if you have been hurt by a medical device.