Bair Hugger warming blankets have helped surgeons regulate patient’s body temperatures for years. They became necessary because of the risk of hypothermia during surgeries. However, many Americans are unaware of the inherent risks to the use of these blankets during surgeries. These risks include joint infections and other types of infections.
So, if you’ve ever used any of these blankets, it’ll be best to know about these dangers. In addition, many lawsuits are springing up around the country against Bair Hugger’s manufacturers. If you think you’re eligible to file a claim, our product liability lawyers can help you. All you have to do is approach the McDonald Worley Law Firm for an evaluation of your case.
What Is the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket?
The Bair Hugger blanket is a surgical warming blanket that medical practitioners use during a surgical procedure. Doctors use this forced-air warming system to regulate patients’ temperature during surgery. The 3M company is the producer of the Bair Hugger warming blanket, and they designed it to prevent hypothermia during surgery. Hypothermia refers to when the body loses heat faster than it produces.
Usually, anesthetized patients lose body heat quickly during the surgery. Hypothermia during surgeries can lead to blood loss, more extended hospitalization, and infections. Therefore, Scott D. Augustine invented the Bair Hugger to protect patients on the surgical table. The Bair Hugger equipment has:
- Warming units, and
The US Food and Drug Administration cleared the first set of forced-air warming devices in 1987. Since then, the company has sold and installed millions of this equipment in hospitals. With this equipment, surgical teams can maintain normal body temperatures during operations. Medical personnel primarily use this warming device to combat the risk of hypothermia in orthopedic surgeries.
- Joint replacement surgery
- Knee replacement surgery
- Hip replacement surgery
How the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Works
The Bair Hugger warming equipment filters and forces warm air through disposable blankets. This warming blanket covers the surgical patient before, during, and after surgery. Furthermore, the equipment uses pressure points on the patient’s body to prevent heat from reaching sensitive parts of the body.
Some drain holes allow fluid passage through the warming blanket’s surface. The drain holes prevent unintended cooling from heat loss through evaporation. Notably, the Bair Hugger air warming blanket is disposable. Therefore, it reduces the risks for infection amongst patients.
Do Bair Huggers Increase Infection?
Yes, many plaintiffs are currently arguing that the device caused them infections. The most significant threat from the blanket is joint infection risks after surgery. Many patients contract these infections during hip replacement surgeries and knee replacement procedures.
To treat these infections, patients often require additional surgery. Depending on the type of infection, the patient may also require antibiotic therapy. Sometimes, it gets worse for some patients. So, they may need amputations, joint fusion, or removal. In addition, the patient’s condition may necessitate two-stage revision surgery. Finally, if the patient’s condition cannot condone subsequent surgeries, they may have to stay on antibiotic treatment long term.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Blanket Infections
Some factors predispose people to Bair Hugger blanket infections after knee and hip replacement surgeries. Some of such factors include:
- Immunosuppressive treatments such as chemotherapy
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Immune deficiencies, including HIV
Signs of An Infection
Fortunately, joint infection patients can notice the infection early. If they do, they can quickly treat it and recover fully. So, if you notice any of these symptoms after using the Bair Hugger, it’ll be best to tell your doctor:
- Warmth and wound redness
- Wound drainage
- Fevers and night sweats
It’s harmful bacteria that cause these infections. However, it’s challenging for the body to attack these bacteria. This is because the airborne bacteria get to the surgical implants that are made of metal and plastics. Furthermore, the bacteria often form protective films around the implants. Unfortunately, these films are often antibiotic-resistant. Consequently, the patient requires additional surgery to cure the infection.
Are There Other Disadvantages to Using This Air Warming Blanket System?
Indeed, there are many benefits to using the Bair Hugger warming equipment. Unfortunately, though, using this blanket during surgery can lead to some other complications. We know this because many people have reported adverse events during the use of the air warming device. For instance, some patients have suffered extensive burns during surgeries. Furthermore, many patients had to endure prolonged exposure to heat.
In 2017, the FDA stated that it was aware of the product’s infection concerns. However, it is still recommended that medical practitioners continue using the blankets. The FDA even sent a letter highlighting the many benefits of the blanket. According to the FDA’s letter, this move was after reviewing medical research and data.
Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Recall
In January 2018, 3M recalled about 165,000 Bair Hugger blankets. The recall affected about 33,108 cases, each containing five Bair Hugger blankets. The company claimed that this recall was because of a design defect. Apparently, some of the blankets didn’t fully inflate during surgery. This defect was after the company redesigned the under-body blankets.
The company had warned that partial inflation could prevent proper warming on the operating table. In fact, a patient suffered hypothermia under the blankets. However, the company hasn’t recalled any medical devices because of infection risks.
The inventor of Bair Hugger blankets, Scott Augustine, has also warned against using this medical equipment. The doctor issued this warning as far back as 2010. He stated that the forced air could lead to bacterial infections for patients. But, of course, the company that now markets the device denied Dr. Augustine’s claims. They instead replied that his motivation was a personal vendetta.
Am I Eligible To File a Lawsuit Against Bair Hugger Warming Blankets?
If you have used the Bair Hugger blankets, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. You have greater chances if you’ve suffered deep joint infections or other orthopedic infections. However, proving your claim may be slightly challenging. This difficulty usually is in linking your injuries to the blanket. This is where the best Bair Hugger litigation lawyers come in.
Firstly, you’ll have to show that the Bair Hugger warming blanket was defective. Furthermore, you’ll have to establish that this defect caused your injuries. This injury could be any of the infections above. Next, you have to show that the manufacturers were negligent in making the blanket.
It could also be that the negligence was while making the device available to the market. Conversely, you can show that the company was aware of the defect and its consequences. But then, they ignored them and didn’t adequately warn the public, including doctors and patients.
Essentially, you have to prove:
- The warming blanket’s defect
- The role of the manufacturers in negligence or recklessness
- Link your infections directly to the device
If you can prove all these facts, you can recover fair compensation for your losses.
What Is the Current Status of Bair Hugger Lawsuits?
There’s great hope for Bair Hugger plaintiffs around the US. This is because the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals recently revived about 6,000 lawsuits. The court held that the judge below had wrongly excluded testimony from the plaintiff’s medical experts. Notably, the appeals court conceded that there were weaknesses in the medical experts’ opinions.
However, it held that the opinions weren’t “so fundamentally unsupported that they had to be excluded.” Consequently, these plaintiffs will now have their day in court. From this ruling, too, it seems other plaintiffs now have better chances of recovering damages.
Recoverable Damages in a Bair Hugger Air Warming Blanket Lawsuit
If you successfully prove the Bair Hugger warm air blanket caused your infections, you can recover damages. Here, the company will pay for any economic and non-economic losses you incurred from their device. You can get:
- Medical Expenses: This would include the cost of your additional surgery. The company will also bear all medical bills you incurred while treating your infection.
- Lost Income: A Bair Hugger injury may prevent you from working. In such a case, you can recover any wages you would have earned but for the injury.
- Non-Economic Damages: You can also recover compensation for pain and suffering from your wounds. This compensation can also cover forms of emotional distress.
Victims of Bair Hugger bacterial infections can die. If this happens, the deceased’s estate can file a lawsuit against the company. Their recoverable damages for wrongful death will include:
- Cost of medical treatment before the decedent’s death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Mental pain and anguish the death caused the deceased’s survivors
- Lost love, care, companionship, etc.
- Lost inheritance
- Lost maintenance, services, support, and advice
- Other losses the family incurs because of the victim’s death
How Long Do I Have To File a Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Lawsuit?
It’s been established that forced-air warming devices like the Bair Hugger can cause surgical site infections. Therefore, patients that develop a surgical infection after using this electric blanket can sue the medical device manufacturers. However, you don’t have all the time in the world to file a Bair Hugger lawsuit. Instead, the Statute of Limitations prescribes specific periods within which you must approach the court.
In Texas, you have only two years to file your Bair Hugger lawsuit. This is the general Texas statutory period for lawsuits over defective products. Your time starts to count from the injury date. Therefore, if you don’t file your claim within this period, you may lose your right to damages. That’s why it’s best to immediately approach product liability attorneys if you think this patient warmer hurt you.
The Discovery Rule
A patient may not know that forced-air warming blankets caused joint infections. Here, such patients will have separate statutes of limitations. Therefore, their time will start counting from when they knew or should have known that the Bair Hugger blanket caused their injury. However, the plaintiff will still have the two-year statutory period.
The Texas Statute of Repose
Texas has another law that affects your warming blanket lawsuit. It’s the Statute of Repose. Based on this law, plaintiffs cannot file claims beyond 15 years from when the defendant sells the bad device. Notably, this period is different from when you bought the defective product.
Experienced personal injury lawyers can determine how the statute of limitations and repose affect your claim. Firstly, your lawyer will want to know when you used the warm air blanket at the initial consultation. Furthermore, an attorney may need to find out what model of the Bair Hugger you used. With this information, they can figure out whether your claim has passed any of these timelines.
Texas Bair Hugger Liability Lawyers Can Help You!
Indeed, the Bair Hugger blankets can protect a patient during surgery. However, where the Bair Hugger’s risks for infection become real, you deserve compensation for your injuries. So, it’ll help to hire the best product liability attorneys for your case. This is because Bair Hugger litigation can get complicated and challenging.
At McDonald Worley, our team of lawyers can get you the maximum compensation. In addition, our attorneys have multiple years of experience representing victims of defective products. So, we’re confident that we can win your case too. So, why not call us today for legal consultations on your claim?