Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Lawyer

Bair Hugger is a forced-air warming blanket that is used to prevent hypothermia in patients during some surgeries. This type of warming blanket has been in use in the United States since 1988. Today, over 80% of U.S. hospitals use the technology.

The warming blanket works by using a micron filter to gently force warm air through the blanket. Additionally, the blankets make use of pressure points on the patient’s body to prevent pressure sores and burns in certain at-risk areas. The Bair Hugger also features drain holes that allow fluid to pass through and be absorbed by linen inside the blanket. This prevents skin maceration, or the softening and breaking down of skin due to prolonged exposure to moisture. These blankets are disposable so as to reduce the risk of infection spreading from patient to patient.

3M is formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company and is an American multinational corporation that produces more than 55,000 products, including medical devices.

One of 3M’s main products is the warming blankets among many other heating blankets for hospitals and clinics.

You should retain our Bair Hugger Warming Blanket lawyers if you or someone you love has been hurt or suffered adverse conditions after using a warming blanket. Our dangerous devices attorneys can answer your questions, explain your rights, and help you navigate the legal process to pursue compensation.

What Infections Can Be Caused By Bair Hugger Warming Blankets?

The most common infection occurs in patients who have had hip or knee implant surgery caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. Although many staphylococcus aureus bacteria are essentially harmless, MRS is known to resist antibiotic therapies and therefore make it difficult to treat.

Any bacteria that remain after prescribed treatment will develop a tolerance to the antibiotic and pass on the resistance as others divide and multiply.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of staph bacteria. While ordinary staph bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic, can be found on about one-third of the population and are generally harmless, an infection can occur if the bacteria enter the body through cuts or other wounds. Such infections can be treated with antibiotics. MRSA, however, is an especially difficult infection to treat, as it has become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat typical staph infections.

There are two types of MRSA: community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) and healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). CA-MRSA is the less common of the two, but it is often found in people living in crowded conditions, people who play high-contact sports, and people who work with children, as it is spread by skin-to-skin contact. More common is HA-MRSA, which occurs in people who have been in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Typically, MRSA infections are associated with invasive procedures or medical devices.

MRSA infections, like most staph infections, generally first appear as swollen, painful red bumps that may initially resemble a pimple or spider bite. The infected area could also be warm and full of pus or other liquid, and the patient could experience a fever. If the infection begins to spread or the symptoms show no improvement after several days, even with the use of antibiotics, it could be an MRSA infection.

MRSA infections are not limited exclusively to the skin. MRSA can also infect surgical wounds, and if the bacteria are able to spread deep into the body, it could infect the bones, joints, bloodstream, lungs, and more, creating a potentially life-threatening infection.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA infections, are a serious type of infection that is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that has become resistant to common antibiotic treatment.

MRSA infections are most commonly found in health care settings, due to invasive procedures and medical devices such as the Bair Hugger. Medical tubing — such as intravenous lines or urinary catheters — can provide a pathway for MRSA to travel into your body and if not treated properly, MRSA infections can be extremely dangerous. Areas of the body affected include the:

  • bloodstream
  • lungs
  • heart
  • bones
  • joints

MRSA infections can be fatal if the proper precautions and treatments are not sought.

SEPSIS

Sepsis occurs when an infection is left untreated. Sepsis occurs when chemicals passing through the bloodstream trigger inflammation in the patient’s body. This then leads to damage in different organ systems, ultimately causing them to fail. When Sepsis progresses to a septic shock, blood pressure drops substantially and can eventually lead to death.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening reaction that occurs when the body attempts to fight infection. The condition occurs when certain chemicals are released into the bloodstream to help fight an infection that has been contracted.

These chemicals cause inflammation throughout the body. If not treated quickly, it can cause organ failure, as well as drastic drops in blood pressure, which can lead to death. It is most commonly found in older adults or those who have weakened immune systems; however, it can occur in any patient. Antibiotics are used to treat the reaction.

Sepsis can be difficult to recognize because it has symptoms in common with many other conditions and illnesses. Recognition is critical, however, as it can progress rapidly.

In addition to signs of infection, patients may also exhibit:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate

If the condition progresses and becomes severe, patients may show these signs of imminent organ failure:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Decreased urine output
  • Decreased platelet count
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormality in the heart pumping function

The presence of these symptoms plus a drastic drop in blood pressure indicates a patient may be experiencing septic shock.

Septic shock occurs when the body’s blood pressure drops drastically. This can lead to death in a patient if not treated properly. Patients at risk of septic shock may feel but are not limited to:

  • abrupt changes in mental status
  • abnormal heart pumping function
  • abdominal pain
  • trouble breathing
  • decreased urine output.

It is important to contact a medical professional immediately if you believe you are at risk of septic shock.

Treatment After Bair Hugger Infections

The warming blanket technology has been used extensively since it was introduced to the market in the late 1980s. However, there have been several reports of serious complications associated with the blanket during surgical implant procedures. Patients who have undergone surgery to receive implants, such as knee implants, hip implants, or artificial heart valves have reported cases of serious infection, including joint infection, MRSA infection, soft tissue infection, and Sepsis. In some cases, patients have had limbs amputated due to the serious of the infection they contracted.

Patients who have suffered serious infections after a surgery that used a warming blanket may require additional medical care. Treatment can include:

  • Extended hospitalization
  • Additional surgery
  • Insertion of antibiotic spacers into the affected area
  • Revision or removal of implants, such as a knee or hip replacement
  • Amputation

Any treatments that have been required after a Bair Hugger Warming Blanketinfection should be shared with your lawyer.

Why Is Device Removal Necessary?

When infections occur, sometimes it is necessary for doctors to remove the implanted knee or hip device from the infected area. Removing replacement joint components due to infection requires additional surgery and hospital stay.

An additional procedure comes with its own set of risks, and another stay at the hospital can result in significant bills and lost income from time off work. Furthermore, there may be additional procedures and hospital time required to install a new component, once the infection has been treated.

How Are Amputations Caused By Bair Hugger?

The Bair Hugger warming blanket systems have recently been under the microscope for allegations of that the device can spread harmful bacteria into open surgical areas during some implant surgeries. When infection occurs in the arms or legs, the risk of limb amputation can become greater the longer the infection goes untreated.

In recent months, lawsuits have been filed against the makers of the Bair Hugger warming blankets claiming that the device caused hot air currents between the surgeon and the patient, transporting contaminated air to surgical areas. This contaminated air can cause infection in the surgical site, and if not detected in time, can lead to further complications.

Limb amputation is a very involved surgical procedure that requires extensive planning and rehabilitation. Besides the obvious resulting physical limitations, losing an arm or leg can have a profound emotional effect on the individual. Lawsuits in these types of cases seek compensation for the cost of the procedure and the cost of future doctor’s visits, including the design and installment of artificial limbs.

Additionally, they seek payment for the emotional distress many feel after losing an arm or leg.

Bair Hugger Recall Information

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has not yet issued a recall for the Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets despite the fact that the devices have been linked to serious medical complications.

The FDA continues to investigate ongoing claims that the devices create a serious risk for infection that can lead to additional complications.

Although Bair Hugger warming blankets have not been recalled, you can still pursue a lawsuit if you or a loved one has suffered complications caused by the device.

What Lawsuits Have Been Filed Against Bair Hugger Warming Blankets?

Recently, there have been growing concerns over complications caused by warming blankets, which are surgical blankets used to regulate patients’ body temperature during surgeries.

Lawsuits have already been filed against the makers, 3M. Most recently, a Michigan resident who underwent hip replacement surgery in 2012 has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the warming blanket.

The lawsuit was filed on July 25th, 2015, and claims that the warming blanket blew bacteria-contaminated air directly onto the patient. This resulted in a serious infection that required three additional surgeries; the removal of the implant, cleaning of the hip and dead tissue removal, and removal of most of this right thigh muscle. The patient has permanent limited mobility as a result of the infections.

To learn how you could file a lawsuit, contact one of our Bair Hugger Warming Blanket attorneys today.

Contact a Knowledgeable Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Attorney for Legal Help

The 3M Bair Hugger is a force hot air warming blanket, used primarily to help maintain a patient’s body temperature during surgery. The 3M Bair Hugger pushes warm air through a flexible hose into a blanket draped over a patient.

However, warming blankets can recirculate contaminated air over a patient’s body, including over an open surgical site. This may result in infections like MRSA or sepsis.

In particular, patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery are at risk of infections deep in the joint, which is very difficult to treat.

Complications from these infections include hospitalization, implant revision surgery, limited mobility, permanent disability, amputation and death.

As a Bair Hugger Warming Blanket lawyer at our firm could explain, the following criteria must be met to file a lawsuit:

  • Underwent total hip or total knee replacement
  • Surgery occurred after September 9, 2010
  • Infection occurred within one year of the hip or knee replacement
  • Infection was so severe that it resulted in the eventual removal of the initial hip or knee replacement device
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    Sources and References
    1. Bair Hugger – 3M
    2. Doctor Says a Device He Invented Poses Risks – The New York Times
    3. The Bair Hugger Patient Warming System in Prolonged Vascular Surgey – NCBI
    4. Mayo Clinic – MRSA Infection
    5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
    6. MedlinePlus – MRSA
    7. Skinsight – MRSA 
    8. Limb Amputations – Web MD
    9. Leg or Foot Amputation – MedlinePlus
    10. Warming Blankets – 3M
    11. Summary of Safety and Effectiveness – FDA
    12. FDS Encourages the Reporting of Medical Device Adverse Events: Free-Hosing Hazards – APSF
    13. Patient Warming – 3M
    14. Bair Hugger Therapy – 3M
    15.  Bair Hugger patient warming system in prolonged vascular surgery – National Center for Biotechnology Information
    16. Doctor Says a Device He Invented Poses Risks – The New York Times 
    17. Managing Sepsis in the Adult Patient – EMS World
    18. Overview: Sepsis – Mayo Clinic
    19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Sepsis Questions and Answers
    20. Mayo Clinic – Sepsis
    21. MedlinePlus – Sepsis
    22. National Institutes of Health News in Health – Surviving Sepsis
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