Operations can be intimidating. When the time comes to fall asleep, many patients feel uncomfortable or afraid. Devices like the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket help ease fear during surgery. They provide warmth in an otherwise cold situation. This comfort is short-lived once the surgery is over, and pain and infection sets in.
About the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket
A forced air warming blanket, the Bair Hugger is used on patients who are preparing to undergo orthopedic surgery and assists in helping the patient fall asleep before surgery while maintaining a consistent core body temperature to prevent hypothermia.
The Bair Hugger works by pushing hot air through a hose and into the blanket, which is draped over the patient. While this sounds comfortable in theory, this piece of medical equipment is actually responsible for a number of hip and knee infections across the United States, some which have resulted in death.
Like an electric blanket, the Bair Hugger rests on the floor and covers the patient almost entirely. From there, it pulls in cold air before warming it up and releasing it onto the body. This new, warm air has a tendency to disturb particles resting on the ground, some of which contain bacteria. Because heat rises, dangerous particles have the ability to float throughout the room and settle on hip or knee implants.
The Scary Truth
Since the human body can't fight bacteria on the surface of a metal implant, patients receiving artificial heart valves, as well as hip and knee implants, run the risk of many post-surgery illnesses, which is why paying attention to what surrounds a patient is so important during an operation. Since the Bair Hugger is used throughout a surgery, bacteria often finds its way onto these types of implants. From there, it enters the bloodstream and can cause serious injuries.
Since it was introduced in 1988, the Bair Hugger has been used on more than 180 million patients in the United States. In fact, 80% of all hospitals presently use this technology. This is despite the inventors warning in 2002 that it should not be used in orthopedic surgeries due to the increased risk of infection.
Have you or someone you love had orthopedic surgery that resulted in a deep joint infection afterward? Did it result in hospitalization, a revision surgery, amputation or even death? If so, it is important that you
contact us immediately for a FREE consultation.
The Manufacturer Claims It's Safe
Even though medical device manufacturers have a fiduciary responsibility to create safe products, 3M and Arizant — the developers of the Bair Hugger — continue to maintain that the blanket is safe, citing nearly two hundred studies that have been conducted and "prove" that forced-air warming is harmless.
But How Safe Is "Safe"?
The Minneapolis Start Tribute reports that in November 2011, the Bone and Joint Journal in the United Kingdom published a paper from a study of experiments with mannequins and research on past patient records that found the Bair Hugger created a "significant" increased risk for deep joint infection compared with patients who used the HotDog. The study used statistical regression to report an infection rate of 3.1 percent with forced air, compared with 0.8 percent with the HotDog.
Outpatientsurgery.net stated in a NY Times article that many of the allegations linking surgical site infections to forced-air warming were started by a surprising source — the inventor of the Bair Hugger, Scott Augustine, MD, who after a contentious split from the company that sold the Bair Hugger to 3M, invented the HotDog patient warming system, an air-free device that works similar to an electric blanket, warming the patient from above and below simultaneously. Dr. Augustine claims in an article in the The New York Times that the company selling the Bair Hugger knew of the infection risk as far back as 2010 and was covering up this danger to keep sales strong.
How Danziger & De Llano Can Help You
The harmful effects that unsuspecting victims of the Bair Hugger have suffered are incomprehensible. If you or a loved one is showing symptoms of a post-surgery infection and you believe that it may have been caused by the use of a Bair Hugger, you need to speak with us right away. Our job is to ensure that your case is handled professionally and given the attention that it deserves.