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Bair Hugger: Surgical warming blanket can cause serious infections

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Patients who get too cold in operating rooms have an increased chance of dying after surgery.   Even “…a mild degree of perioperative hypothermia can be associated with significant morbidity and mortality,” according to a study published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) an arm of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The Bair Hugger FAW blanket (forced air warming) was developed to keep a patient’s core temperature during surgery at healthy levels.  “Core temperature” is the measure of body heat in the deep thoracic, abdominal and central nervous systems of the body.  Under anesthesia, the body’s heat is not well distributed.  The patient’s blood does not circulate as evenly as it does when a patient is awake.

So keeping patients warm is essential to their recovery after surgery.  When life-threatening infections began developing in patients, especially those who had undergone orthopedic surgeries, doctors learned that the Bair Hugger blanket could circulate air over a patient’s body that was full of bacteria, blowing germs directly into surgical incisions.  Warm air blowing out of the blanket was hitting the floor under and around the operating table, picking up germs, and blowing them back over the patient.

In 2013, a 70-year old patient filed a lawsuit when he developed an infection after a hip replacement operation.  According to his lawsuit against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare, Inc., he underwent 15 subsequent surgeries – one of them to have his hip replacement removed.

In 2015, a patient who had knee replacement surgery developed an infection after a Bair Hugger warming blanket was used during his operation.  His lawsuit against the two companies charges them with “actively and aggressively” marketing Bair Hugger warming blankets even though the companies had known since 2009 about the danger of infection they pose.

As soon as the doctor who invented the Bair Hugger blanket became aware of its hazards, he began publicly warning doctors against using them.

An article in a leading international journal in England - which publishes the latest research into orthopedic surgeries - asserts that infection is a major complication of arthroplasty (surgery to replace joints) and that it is “…difficult to treat and costly in terms of both patient morbidity and long-term health care resources.”

A 2013 study, cited in another medical publication, reported “…a 76% decrease in deep joint infection” when the use of forced air warming devices was “…discontinued and replaced with air-free warming.”

Patients with stubborn infections that developed after hip or knee replacement surgeries are entitled to relief.  Lawyers at the Wayne Wright law firm are prepared to represent those who have been subjected to continuous suffering after surgeries they thought would restore their mobility and wellbeing.  Anyone forced to endure this torment should contact the Wayne Wright law firm immediately.

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