Texas state court has recently dealt with a lawsuit from a woman claiming 3M’s Bair Hugger device is responsible for exposing her to a drug-resistant infection that ultimately resulted in leg amputation.
Ruth Childers of Texas is seeking $1 million from 3M and three other defendants for selling and using Bair Hugger on her while undergoing knee replacement surgery in December 2013. The device is a disposable blanket with warm air circulating through it, intended to keep the patient warm and comfortable while reducing bleeding, risk of infection and post-operative heart attacks.
However, lawsuits including Ms. Childers’ allege the device has potential of stirring up contaminants from beneath the table and blowing bacteria into the surgical sites, causing infection leading to adverse effects. Childers suffered immensely from a post-surgical inffection, resulting in amputation above the knee.
In an email statement, 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming says, “In over 25 years and more than 200 million patients warmed successfully by 3M’s patient warming products, there is not a single confirmed incident of infection caused by the Bair Hugger system.” However, at least 43 federal cases and 12 state cases have been filed against the company claiming the device does, in fact, increase infection.
Dr. Scott D. Augustine, the inventor of the Bair Hugger surgical equipment, now says the warming blanket should not be used specifically for patients receiving implants, such as knee implants and hip implants, as well as artificial heart valves, backing the claim that the device can spread bacteria that is linked to infections.
In many cases, the infections specifically in hip implants have led to revision surgeries. However, 3M stands firm that the Bair Hugger is not responsible for causing the post-surgery infections and that the damages claims are simply gleaned from “junk science” fed to the public by a competitor.