The federal court overseeing hundreds of Bair Hugger lawsuits involving the 3M Company’s widely-used surgical warming blanket has signed off on a new Pretrial Order. The document, which was issued on September 28th, establishes protocols governing Plaintiff Fact Sheets and Service.
Nearly 700 cases are now pending in the Bair Hugger litigation currently underway in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. All of the lawsuits were filed on behalf of hip or knee replacement patients who allegedly developed dangerous deep joint infections due to the use of the Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket during their implant surgery.
According to the September 28th Order, all plaintiffs are to electronically serve a completed Plaintiff Fact Sheet and signed medical authorization on the Defendants’ lead counsel. Plaintiffs who currently have Bair Hugger lawsuits pending in the multidistrict litigation will have 90 days from the date of the Court’s Order to do so. Plaintiffs who file a claim or transfer a case to the litigation in the future will have 90 days from the date of their filing or completed ransfer to serve the Fact Sheet and medical authorization.
The Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket consists of a disposable, inflatable blanket that connects to a portable heater via a plastic hose. Introduced in 1987, the apparatus is now used in the majority of U.S. hospitals to help surgery patients maintain an optimal body temperature while they are under anesthesia. However, plaintiffs pursuing hip and infection lawsuits against the 3M Company and its Arizant Healthcare, Inc. subsidiary claim that the device alters airflow in the operating room, causing bacteria from the operating room floor to be deposited into the sterile surgical site. They further allege that the Bair Hugger’s airflow paths from its blower can become contaminated with pathogens, which can then be expelled into the operating room.
Finally, plaintiffs assert that 3M and Arizant have been aware of the Bair Hugger’s alleged defect for years, but have not made any design changes to the apparatus or provided warnings to doctors.