Forced Air Warming Blanket Risk of Hip and Knee Surgery Infections Denied by 3M for Years
Amid a growing number of hip surgery infection lawsuits and knee surgery infection lawsuits filed against 3M Corporation, which allege that the company’s Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket caused contaminants to enter the surgical field, questions are being raised about how long the manufacturer knew about the potential risk.
In recent years, several studies have found that forced air warmers like the Bair Hugger disrupt the laminar airflow in operating rooms, which are designed to prevent bacteria and contaminants from entering the sterile surgical field. The devices may cause bacteria and other contaminants to enter the surgical site, potentially resulting in a catastrophic infection following a hip replacement or knee replacement.
Rather than warning consumers and the medical community about the potential forced air warming blanket infection risks, it appears that 3M and their Arizant Healthcare subsidiary have engaged in an active campaign to minimize the concerns and provide misleading information.
Arizant has published a website (www.fawfacts.com) for the sole purpose of refuting concerns about the risks of forced air warming (FAW) blankets, which are used during many hip and knee operations to help control body temperature. However, the manufacturer fails to accurately and completely disclose the findings that are contrary to their interests, preventing many within the medical community from making an informed decision about whether to use a Bair Hugger.
Several published studies have suggested that the currents caused by forced air warming may move “dirty” air from the non-sterile areas to the surgical site, greatly increasing the number of contaminant particles found in the air near the surgical wound and potentially increasing the risk of serious hip infections and knee infections:
In October 2009, a study published in Orthopedic Review warned that the “design of FAW blowers was found to be questionable for preventing the build-up of internal contamination and the emission of airborne contamination into the operating room.” The researchers found that a range of bacteria and fungi could be deposited onto the surgical site.
In February 2012, a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery confirmed that forced air warming results in a significant increase in the number of particles over the surgical site when compared with radiant warming, leading researchers to raise concerns since bacteria are known to require particles for transport.
In March 2012, a study published in the medial journal Anaesthesia further concluded that forced air warming generates “convection current activity” in the area of the surgical site, raising concerns that this may disrupt the designed operating room airflows intended to clear airborne contaminants.
The website published by Arizant about the forced air warming risks appears to be further evidence of the company’s decision to place their desire for profits before consumer safety.
Amid aggressive promotions, more than 50,000 Bair Hugger warming blankets are in use throughout the United States and they are now used in the vast majority of all hip replacements and knee replacements. If balanced information had been presented up-front about the science and studies on the infection risk, it is likely that many hospitals and surgeons would have elected to use alternate methods of controlling body temperature during surgery.
The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are pursuing potential Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket lawsuits for individuals throughout the United States who may have had this device used during a hip or knee replacement since 2009. As a result of the manufacturers failure to disclose the potential forced air warming risks, financial compensation may be available for individuals who have suffered:
- MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- Sepsis (Septic Hip or Septic Knee)
- Other Deep Joint Infection Resulting in Additional Hip or Knee Surgery
- Wrongful Death
All cases are reviewed under a contingency fee agreement, which means that there are no out-of-pocket costs to hire a lawyer and we only receive attorney fees or expenses if a settlement or recovery is obtained.