The manufacturer of the Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket has released a research compendium in an attempt to demonstrate the safety of a device that is currently at the center of hundreds of forced air warming lawsuits.
The 3M Company touts the Bair Hugger as the “gold standard in patient warming devices.” The apparatus consists of a portable heating device that is connected to a disposable blanket. During surgery, the blanket blows warm air over the patient in order to prevent hypothermia. According to 3M, the Bair Hugger has been in used by more than 200 million patients in hospitals worldwide since being introduced in 1987,
A growing number of Bair Hugger lawsuits claim that the forced air warming system is unreasonably dangerous, and that its use promotes post-operative infections in hip and knee replacement patients. This is purportedly due to an alleged design defect that allows contaminants from the operating room floor to come into contact with the open wound during such procedures. According to plaintiffs, some research does suggest that use of the technology is associated with a significant increase in the number of particles that can be detected in the air above the surgical site.
The 3M Company strongly denies the allegations put forth in these lawsuits. However, a press release announcing the release of the company’s new compendium makes no mention of the litigation surrounding the Bair Hugger.
“The compendium includes summaries of paper abstracts in which the Bair Hugger system was either the subject of, or used during a clinical investigation, review articles, case studies and letters to the editor, which introduce relevant information or real-world user experience with the Bair Hugger system,” the company states. “Additionally, the compendium touches on four major themes including hypothermia, infection control, orthopedic surgery and cardiovascular surgery.”
Plaintiffs involved in the forced air warmer litigation will likely take issue with the conclusions drawn by the 3M Company. Rather, they allege that 3M has been aware of the Bair Hugger’s alleged defect for years, but has done nothing to correct the problem or warn doctors and patients about the possible infection risk. They further claim company has aggressively and wrongly marketed the device as being safe for use in orthopedic surgery.