On December 11th, 2015, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order to transfer fourteen lawsuits—related to the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming device—to the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. This multidistrict litigation court (MDL) has been established to preside over all federally filed cases concerning claims that the Bair Hugger device releases bacteria that can cause deep joint infections. It is likely that more than fifty additional cases based upon similar allegations will be added to the MDL at a later time.
What are the Allegations against 3M’s Bair Hugger?
3M’s Bair Hugger Forced Warming Blanket is used to maintain a patient’s body temperature during hip and knee replacement surgeries, among others, by forcing warm air into the blanket and over a patient’s body. However, the Bair Hugger has also been found to disperse warm air beneath surgical tables during procedures, causing bacteria to be circulated into the air and at times to contaminate a surgical site.
The circulation of bacteria during surgery has caused documented cases of deep joint infection in the hips and knees. Cases of infection reported include sepsis and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—commonly known as MRSA. Such infection can require that patients have revision surgery, joint fusion and removal surgery, or in the most severe cases undergo amputation of the infected area when other treatment proves insufficient.
The Lawsuits included in the MDL allege that 3M—the manufacturer of the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Device—and its sales representatives, were aware of the increased risks associated with the use of the device. Further, patients’ attorneys have claimed that 3M not only failed to redesign the device, but did not warn healthcare providers and patients of the risks, and attempted to discredit evidence of the adverse effects.
For more information about infection related to the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Device, or the multidistrict litigation against 3M, contact the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos.