It is well established in the medical community that keeping a patient warm during surgery has numerous health benefits. To do this, many hospitals use a system referred to as the Bair Hugger, which is a device that draws in air, warms it, and then pumps it underneath a blanket to keep the patient warm while surgery is performed. While the purpose of the device is to circulate air and warm the patient during surgery, evidence shows warm air might not be the only thing it circulates. It has been reported a growing number of infections have stemmed from the Bair Hugger system. This is due to the fact the Bair Hugger system may also be circulating bacteria found in the surgery room and depositing it directly to the site of surgery.
What does this mean for you?
An increasing number of lawsuits have been filed and are continually being filed in regards to the Bair Hugger system. Allegations of a cover-up have been reported. The inventor of the Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, warned in 2010 that the device could spread bacteria and cause infections. He also made a more shocking claim to the New York Times stating the company selling the device, national medical device conglomerate 3M, was covering up this danger to keep sales strong. Reports suggest the Bair Hugger system generates:
Over 2,000 times more bacteria in the air near the surgical site
A 3.8 times increased risk of developing sepsis (blood poisoning) at the surgery site
Additionally, reports further speculate that there was a 74% decrease in infections when the Bair Hugger system was not used in surgery.
Remedying the Problem
There are more than 50,000 Bair Hugger warming blankets in hospitals nationwide, and the devices have been used on millions of patients. The lawsuits already filed in regards to this system claim the manufacturer has known about the surgical infection risk for years yet failed to make design changes or provide warnings to the medical community.
Alternatives are available and if you are undergoing surgery in the near future, please talk to your medical professional about these alternatives before your surgery! Some of the alternatives that may be available include:
A disposable blanket placed under the sterile drapes;
A warming pad, placed under the patient when the procedure will not allow a warming blanket on top; and
Warm intravenous fluids and irrigation
Our product liability attorneys are currently investigating Bair Hugger claims. If you or a loved one developed an infection post-surgery and one of these Bair Hugger machines was used during surgery procedures, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to discuss your possible right to legal remedy.
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