3M, the maker of the Bair Hugger device used during surgeries to keep patients’ temperatures regulated, claims that the lawsuits against it regarding infection linked to the single-use blankets are based on “bad science.”
In an article by Star Tribune, 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon said, “3M will vigorously defend the product and the science against these unwarranted lawsuits.” She also added, “We think it’s unfortunate that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are using bad science to blame their clients’ infections on a device that has helped so many people.”
The Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket is used in four out of five hospitals in the U.S. and is one of the most popular ways to keep a patient warm during surgery, as their body temperature drops while under anesthesia. The device consists of a warming unit that is usually placed beneath the operating table, which is connected to a hose that feeds into a single-use forced air warming blanket that is placed over the patient.
Although hundreds of millions of Bair Huggers have been sold since its invention by anesthesiologist Dr. Scott Augustine in 1987, there have been studies conducted showing that waste heat from the unit builds up beneath the operating table. This creates convection currents that can stir up contaminants from the floor and blow back onto the patient, potentially spreading infection-causing bacteria onto the surgery site.
Contaminates such as staph and mold have been found in the filters of the warming unit, which functions at only 63 percent filter capacity (the FDA requires that it function at 99 percent). This is especially dangerous for joint replacement surgery patients, such as hip or knee implant recipients, because these contaminates can embed themselves into the implant, causing serious infection that could lead to revision surgeries, illness or in some cases, amputation.
Source: Star Tribune