Bair Hugger Lawsuit

Why is the Bair Hugger Unsafe?

“Given the ongoing legal situation, decisions were made previously (at a high level) not to pursue clinical research on this topic.”

Internal 3M Communication

Forced-air warming systems like the Bair Hugger can spread dangerous bacteria in operating rooms and increase the risk of serious infections during surgery, according to numerous peer-reviewed medical studies. 

The device consists of a portable heater/blower connected by a flexible hose to a blanket. Warm air is circulated through the blanket to regulate the body temperature of patients before and during surgery. The maker of the Bair Hugger, Arizant, was purchased by 3M in 2010 for approximately $810 million. 

Because the Bair Hugger uses hot air to keep patients warm in the operating room, studies show that the heated air escapes from the surgical drape and rises – like a hot air balloon – spreading harmful bacteria. 3M’s own experts acknowledge the Bair Hugger is not sterile, even though it’s intended to be used in operating rooms. 

Scientific evidence continues to accumulate. Numerous medical studies and independent research have documented a significant increase in infection risk for exposure to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 

A 2011 medical study in Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found that use of forced-air devices like the Bair Hugger increase those risks by nearly 400 percent. More recently, a study published in Anesthesiology magazine in 2021 found that air samples taken from the Bair Hugger contained large quantities of bacteria that pose an infection risk.

According to internal 3M records and sworn testimony from company representatives, 3M has long known about these design flaws and safety risks but has failed to correct the defects or warn users.

In joint replacement operations, if a single bacterium lands on the implant during surgery, it can grow into a serious infection. Bacterial joint infection can also cause septic arthritis that can destroy a joint if not treated with antibiotics right away. In some cases, a patient may need surgery to remove the implant and the infection. In rare cases, the infection can result in amputation.

The costs of these infections and surgeries are high: upwards of $90,000 per infected joint, according to an analysis published in JAMA Surgery by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017.

In addition to the documented health risks, studies have also found forced-air warming devices like the Bair Hugger no more effective than blankets that use conductive material rather than heated air. 

See If You Have a Case

Infections that occur during surgery can cause serious medical complications, including septic arthritis. In some cases, a patient may need surgery to remove the implant and the infection. In rare cases, the infection can result in amputation.

If you have experienced medical complications after a surgical procedure in which a Bair Hugger blanket was used, you may be entitled to compensation.

See If You're Eligible for Compensation


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