Phoenix Bair Hugger Lawyers
Bair Hugger Creator Joins the Fight Against Device’s Surgical Infection Risk
What Is the Bair Hugger?
The Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming device uses disposable blankets and tubes to distribute warm air evenly across a patient’s body during surgery. This method of circulating heat over the patient makes sure that a regular body temperature is maintained, leading to faster recovery times and fewer instances of bleeding. Since its introduction in 1988, Dr. Augustine’s invention is currently in use in more than 80 percent of U.S. hospitals, and has been used to treat more than 180 million surgery patients.
However, in the nearly twenty years since the Bair Hugger was introduced, its dangers have become apparent. Patients have filed lawsuits charging they suffered severe deep-tissue infections after being treated with A Bair Hugger device. Pending litigation also includes claims that 3M, the current corporate owner and manufacturer of the Bair Hugger, knew about the possible risk of infection in patients but did not discontinue use of the devices.
Inventor Agrees That the Device Carries Risk of Infection
The Bair Hugger was created by Minnesota anesthesiologist Dr. Scott D. Augustine. Although the device is still widely used and proved highly profitable for Dr. Augustine, he said in a recent New York Times article that he believes his invention can spread bacteria and cause hospital-acquired infections.
Dr. Augustine has taken many public actions to reduce the surgical infection risks of his Bair Hugger devices, including:
- Asking hospitals to stop using the device. Dr. Augustine has acknowledged that forced air warming devices can pick up bacteria from the surgical suite and recirculate it under the blankets and into a patient’s wound site. Patients who are receiving implants, such as artificial heart valves, knee replacements, and hip joints were identified as especially at risk.
- Suggesting illegal activities. Last year, Dr. Augustine wrote a letter to Arizant, then-owner of the device, accusing the company of attempting to cover-up known issues surrounding the Bair Hugger. Arizant has since been acquired by 3M.
- Inventing an alternative. Dr. Augustine has recently completed work on an alternative warming method for surgical patients that does not use forced air.
Why Are Post-Surgical Infections So Dangerous?
A deep-tissue infection can be much more difficult to access and treat than infections in topical wounds. As the air from the Bair Hugger invades inner tissues of a bodily cavity during surgery, bacteria become trapped in the body. After the wound is closed, the bacteria grows
and spreads deep beneath the surface of the skin. If the infection continues to spread, a patient may have to undergo a second, third, or even fourth surgery to remove the implant and eradicate the infection at the source. Patients receiving replacement devices are often older; they may be immunocompromised or unable to fight off the infection, leading to early death.
Hospital acquired infections represent another danger. An improperly disinfected surgical room may carry any number of bacterial agents, including the super-bug Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These bacteria are resistant to many commonly-used antibiotics, and are extremely hard to treat.
If you or someone you love has suffered a surgical infection as a result of the Bair Hugger blanket, the attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP can help. Call (602) 883-2929 today to tell us what happened to you in your free consultation. We can answer all of your legal questions, and you owe us nothing unless we win your case.
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