Bair Hugger devices consist of warming units, blankets, and related accessories. Bair Hugger Therapy uses forced air in warming blankets that are wrapped around the patient to help prevent and treat hypothermia in patients during surgery. Keeping patients warm during surgery is crucial to preventing hypothermia, reducing bleeding, and prompting fast recovery. Current reports of Bair Hugger infections and lawsuits highlight the potential dangers of a product designed to protect patients during a most vulnerable time.
History of Bair Hugger Devices
Originally designed in the 1980’s, the Bair Hugger devices were created by Dr. Scott D. Augustine as a measure of protecting patients from hypothermia during surgery. Research shows that Bair Hugger Therapy is used on millions of patients, with an estimated 180 million patients since 1988. Dr. Augustine’s involvement in the production of such devices has continued, even while he has battled legal matters including a major feud between Dr. Augustine and Arizant, a company in which he formerly served as Chairman. In spite of Dr. Augustine’s legal battles, he continues to assert his fears over the Bair Hugger device as a potential risk for patients.
Risks of Bair Hugger Devices
While there is no question that there is a use for such products in medicine, they are not without risk. Bair Hugger infections and lawsuits have become a serious concern for individuals undergoing surgery. In recent years, the risks of Bair Hugger devices have been highlighted by safety officials, and by Dr. Augustine himself. The risk of these devices includes the potential for the forced air system to blow bacteria or dangerous pathogens directly into the open surgical site, which should be sterile at all times.
The complications of using Bair Hugger devices include complications like infection, especially in patients undergoing surgery where devices are implanted into their bodies. Patients experiencing complications from Bair Hugger devices may suffer from painful infections, or even require amputation of infected limbs. Since Bair Hugger devices are most commonly used in orthopedic surgery and implant surgeries, the risk of infection of the limbs is a significant concern. Another concern of using Bair Hugger devices is hospital-acquired infections. Bair Hugger devices reportedly present a risk for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Bair Hugger Infections and Lawsuits
Currently, fifteen patients have filed lawsuits against 3M Health Care, who is now the manufacturer for Bair Hugger devices. Recent attention to the risk of Bair Hugger infections and subsequent lawsuits is expected to increase that number significantly. Attorneys currently working on the lawsuits are attempting to consolidate the cases into one federal court. The lawsuits accuse 3M and Arizant of failing to provide proper warnings about potential risk, and misrepresenting the Bair Hugger products.
The latest two lawsuits filed highlight the devastating nature of Bair Hugger complications. The first patient developed MRSA, and subsequently had his leg amputated. The second patient developed a severe infection inside the surgical site, which required an additional 15 surgeries and removal of the joint originally implanted.
What Patients Need to Know
While there is still controversy over the true safety of Bair Hugger devices, the fact remains that patients have rights. In addition to manufacturing safe equipment, manufacturers and product developers must also provide hospitals with adequate warnings and risks. These warnings and risks then must be communicated to patients before surgery is performed.
Any patient who feels that his or her rights have been violated should explore their legal rights regarding Bair Hugger infections and lawsuits. Contacting a skilled Bair Hugger infections and lawsuits attorney is one of the best tools to determining whether filing a lawsuit is the best option.