Latest News 2013 April Heating Device Used During Surgery Led to Infection and Injury

Heating Device Used During Surgery Led to Infection and Injury

A warming blanket, used to keep patients comfortable during surgical procedures without having to heat the entire surgery bay, is the subject of a lawsuit alleging product liability as a patient claims the device caused him unnecessary injury, as reported by the Pioneer Press.

T.W., 70, states that the blanket-like bubbly-wrap product caused him to sustain an infection during a hip replacement surgery in March of 2011 – and led to a total of 15 surgeries to correct the damage.

The airflow in the product, according to T.W., led to the infection, and the artificial hip he had placed eventually had to be removed.

The product is called the Bair Hugger and is made by a 3M Co. subsidiary.

The lawsuit was filed this past March, in Houston, and seeks over $1 million in damages.

The suit claims that germs were picked up by the Bair Hugger as the air was discharged under the surgical table. The germs then rose up into the bag with the heat, where it recirculated into the new hip replacement device.

Maplewood-based 3M and the Eden Prairie-based company that makes the Bair Hugger, Arizant Healthcare Inc., are named in the suit. A sales representative – working for both 3M and Arizant – is also named as a defendant.

3M owns Arizant; they bought the company for $810 million in 2010.

Stephan Sanchez, a 3M spokesman said that the company is "very confident about the safety and efficacy of the Bair Hugger" and that they plan to "fully investigate the circumstances of this incident."

In 2012 the Bair Hugger blankets and gowns were used in 22 million surgeries. According to 3M it is important for surgical patients to maintain a certain temperature while be operated on. The company also claims that sustaining the normal body temperature has proven to reduce the risk of surgical infections and other complications following surgery.

Dr. S.A., the Bair Hugger inventor, has called into question whether the device is safe. He sites five peer-reviewed studies that were done in the last couple of years – examining what he calls the "contamination phenomenon" of the device.

Dr. S.A., an anesthesiologist, marketed the device in 1998 and left Arizant in 2002 after a dispute with the board of directors. His new product, the HotDog, is a similar blanket but does not use forced air for warming.

After a 2010 New York article quoted S.A.'s recent studies, Arizant said that the doctor's "allegations against forced-air warming stem from a personal vendetta and are baseless."

David Hodges, T.W.'s Texas-based attorney, said, "This is the only (case) we're bringing at this time. I won't say there won't be more…If the manufacturer thinks they've done nothing wrong, we'll try every one of these."

If a product that you used left you with an injury you have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. Seek a monetary for your damages and contact a personal injury lawyer right away!