Lawsuit Filed over Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Blanket

Another lawsuit alleges the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming blanket caused a MRSA infection during a knee replacement surgery. The case joins hundreds of others filed against 3M Health Care. The suits are generally filed by patients who allege that the blankets stir up contaminated air into the surgical site during a knee or hip replacement. Plaintiffs allege that this caused deep joint infections, leading to revision surgeries, amputations and other problems.

The Bair Hugger came under increased scrutiny in recent years. In 2010, the inventor of the device, Dr. Scott D. Augustine, raised concerns when he said the product should be recalled. In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Augustine said that while the Bair Hugger offered benefits compared to older warming devices, he believed that it carried a serious risk of infection during artificial joint procedures due to the forced-air design.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a woman who contracted a MRSA infection following a knee replacement surgery that occurred 10 years ago. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was treated with intravenous antibiotics for eight weeks to treat the infection. When she returned for a second knee replacement in 2008, there were allegedly still signs of infection. After this, the plaintiff underwent two more knee replacements, the most recent one in 2011.

According to the lawsuit, one of the plaintiff’s surgeons informed her that once osteo-myelitis (infection of the bone) occurs, it does not go away. She alleges that the infection caused such a loss of bone and soft tissue that a replacement can no longer be attached. The lawsuit states that her last option is amputation. The plaintiff alleges she is in constant pain and now relies on a walker.

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