Bair Hugger Infection Lawsuits Focus of Upcoming Federal Conference

Published on January 3, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

The federal litigation that now involves more than 900 Bair Hugger infection lawsuits is scheduled to convene its next Status Conference later this month. Such conferences generally provide the parties an opportunity to update the court on the progress of the litigation, and to address any issues pertaining to discovery or other pretrial matters that need to be resolved.

Records out of the U.S District Court, District of Minnesota, indicate that at least 939 cases are now pending in the federal Bair Hugger litigation. Per the Court’s website, the proceeding’s upcoming Status Conference has been scheduled for January 19th at 9:30 a.m. C.S.T.

All of the cases pending in the federal Bair Hugger litigation were filed on behalf of hip and knee implant patients who developed dangerous deep joint infections following their surgery, allegedly due to a flaw in the forced air warming system. Court records indicate that plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the 3M Company and its Arizant Healthcare, Inc. subsidiary for medical bills, lost wages, disability and other injury related damages.

The federal litigation last convened a Status Conference on December 15th. Following that Conference, the Court issued a Pretrial Order setting forth procedures governing electronic service of Plaintiff Fact Sheets.

Bair Hugger Allegations

The Bair Hugger is a surgical warming system that was brought to market by Arizant in 1987. Arizant was subsequently acquired by the 3M Company in 2010. The apparatus is now used by more than 80% of the nation’s hospitals to prevent hypothermia in patients undergoing surgical procedures. The Bair Hugger utilizes a portable heater that draws in and warms air from surrounding area. The warmed air is then transferred via a flexible tube to a single-use, inflatable blanket that has been draped over the patient.

Ensuring that surgical patients maintain an optimal body temperature is supposed to promote healing and lessen the likelihood of bleeding and other complications. However, Bair Hugger lawsuit plaintiffs claim that the systems’ alleged design defect allows potentially contaminated air from the operating room floor to come into contact with the sterile surgical site, greatly increasing the odds that patients undergoing a hip or knee replacement will develop an infection at the site of their implant. They claim that 3M and Arizant have been aware of this design defect for years, but have failed modify the Bair Hugger or warn doctors of this risk.

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