Knee Replacement Infection Lawsuit

knee replacement infection lawsuitA growing number of plaintiffs from around the country are filing knee replacement infection lawsuits connected with the 3M Bair Hugger forced air warming system. Plaintiffs claim that this surgical warming blanket can deposit potentially-contaminated air from the operating room floor into the surgical site, increasing the possibility that a knee implant patient will develop a dangerous post-operative joint infection.

Knee Replacement Infection Lawsuit Investigation

Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm that represents individuals harmed by medical devices, is actively investigating knee replacement infection lawsuits on behalf of patients who allegedly developed deep joint infections following knee implant surgery that involved the use of a Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket. If you or a loved one experienced such an infection, please contact our office today at (888) 994-5118 to arrange for a free legal consultation.

Knee Replacement Infections

It is estimated that roughly 1% of patients who undergo hip and knee replacement surgery will develop a deep joint infection following the procedure. However, a growing number of legal claims allege that patients may be more vulnerable to these infections if a Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket is used during their implant surgery. These lawsuits charge that the device can pick up potentially contaminated air from the surgical floor and deposit it into the wound of the patient undergoing the procedure.

Symptoms of a post-operative knee infection may include:

  • High fever
  • Chills and night sweats
  • Drainage from the knee incision site
  • Redness, pain, swelling, stiffness around the joint

Once a knee replacement infection sets in, a patient may require hospitalization in order to undergo IV antibiotic therapy. If treatment is unsuccessful, other medical interventions may include:

  • Surgery: The knee area will need to be cleaned, the implant removed and replaced with antibiotic spacers.
  • Knee revision: Once the infection has been resolved, a new artificial knee can be implanted.
  • Amputation: In the most severe cases, the above interventions may not be sufficient to bring the knee infection under control. The only option at this point may be amputation of the leg.

Bair Hugger Controversy

In 2010, Dr. Scott Augustine, the inventor of the Bair Hugger, told The New York Times that hospitals should “stop using the device during certain operations, asserting that it poses a danger to patients.” He contends that the warm air generated by the surgical blanket can alter air circulated in the special operating rooms where joint replacement surgeries are performed. This altered flow can bring contaminated air into contact with the surgical site, Dr. Augustine claims.

A number of studies have been published in recent years that suggest forced air warming may expose surgical patients to potentially contaminated air:

  • Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 2011: A group of surgeons in the U.K. reported a dramatic 74% decrease in deep joint infections when they discontinued using forced air warming blankets during total joint replacement surgery.
  • Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 2012: Researchers reported increased particulate counts with forced warming compared to radiant warming. “The convection currents increased the particle concentration 1000-fold (2 174 000 particles/m3 for forced-air warming vs 1000 particles/m3 for radiant warming and 2000 particles/m3 for the control) by drawing potentially contaminated particles from below the operating table into the surgical site,” the study noted.
  • Anesthesia, March 2012: A study reports that forced air warming creates convection currents that the authors surmise may disrupt ventilation airflows that would normally remove airborne contaminants from the surgical site.
  • Anesthesia and Analgesia, August 2013: An editorial reported that forced-air warming “was found to establish convection currents that mobilized resident air from non-sterile areas (under the anesthesia drape) upward and into the surgical site.”

Bair Hugger Litigation Update

  • November 2015: the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that at least 50 Bair Hugger lawsuits had been filed on behalf of patients who allegedly developed hip and knee replacement infections due to the 3M Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket. Plaintiffs are seeking to have all federal claims that put forth these types of allegations centralized before a single judge in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. The 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare, Inc., the manufacturers of the Bair Hugger, are opposed to centralization, and insist the allegations have no basis in science. Read More.
  • December 2015: A multidistrict litigation is established in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota for all federally-filed Bair Hugger lawsuits involving its alleged association with deep joint infections in hip and knee implant patients. All such cases pending in federal courts will be transferred to the new proceeding for coordinated pretrial proceedings, as will any additional claims filed in the future. Read More
  • January 2016: The federal Bair Hugger litigation is underway, the the issuance of the  first Pretrial Order in the District of Minnesota. The Order indicates that the litigation’s first status conference will be convened at a still-to-be-determined date in February. Discovery in all cases is stayed pending the conference and further order of the Court. More than 80 cases are now included in the centralized proceeding. Read More


Should I File a Knee Replacement Infection Lawsuit?

If you or a loved one suffered a dangerous post-operative infection following artificial joint surgery, the legal staff at Bernstein Liebhard LLP can help you determine if you are qualified to file a knee replacement infection lawsuit against the manufacturers of the Bair Hugger forced air warmer. To arrange for your free legal consult, please call (888) 994-5118.

  1. New York Times (2010) “Dr. Says a Device He Invented Poses Risks”
  2. Weissman, Charles MD; Murray, W. Bosseau MD (2013) “It’s Not Just Another Room” Anesthesia and Analgesia,
  3. Dasari KB, Albrecht M, Harper M (2012) “Effect of forced-air warming on the performance of operating theatre laminar flow ventilation.” Anesthesia,
  4. Legg, A. J., Cannon, T., & Hamer, A. J. (2012). Do forced air patient-warming devices disrupt unidirectional downward airflow? J Bone and Joint Surgery,
  5. McGovern et al. (2011) Forced-air warming and ultra-clean ventilation do not mix. J Bone and Joint Surgery.
Last Modified: January 19, 2016

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