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Surgical Warming Blankets Linked to Life-Threatening Complications in Boston and Around the Country

Warming blankets used on patients during certain knee and hip surgeries have been linked to serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. The 3M Bair Hugger warming system helps to regulate a patient’s body temperature while under anesthesia. Unfortunately, many patients have developed deep joint infections after using these warming systems. As a result, some patients have required additional surgeries, including removal of hip and knee replacements, and others have become permanently disabled. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Since its approval by the FDA in 1998, the forced air warming blanket manufactured by Arizant Healthcare, Inc., has been used during millions of knee and hip replacements. Vents allow heated air to circulate around the patient, including in the area beneath the operating table. This warmed air helps to reduce bleeding from incisions and may result in faster recovery periods. However, recent findings show that the warming system may also spread bacteria, leading to infections and other serious complications.

Warm Air May Transfer Germs and Bacteria to Surgical Incisions

The Bone & Joint Journal conducted a study of the warming blanket system in 2013. Their research revealed that the blanket could recirculate contaminants it comes in contact with, including MRSA and sepsis. Germs and non-sterile air under the operating table can be transferred to the sterile surgical site through convection currents created by the warmed air. In August 2013, an article was published in Anesthesia & Analgesia warning patients about the risks associated with the 3M Bair Hugger system and other similar warming blankets. When bacteria and germs are blown into surgical incisions, the risk of infection increases substantially. Possible complications associated with this risk include:

  • Additional surgeries
  • Removal of hip or knee devices
  • Amputation of affected limb(s)
  • Death

Many of the lawsuits against 3M and its manufacturer Arizant Healthcare, Inc. allege that the device was not adequately tested prior to its release. Follow-up testing may have also been insufficient. Even the device’s inventor, Dr. Scott Augustine, has expressed his concerns about the device’s safety.  Had proper testing been conducted, multiple patients may have been spared unnecessary pain, additional surgeries, and debilitating injuries. One patient in particular required five additional surgeries following the initial surgical procedure using a warming blanket.

Symptoms of Complications from Warming Blanket

If you develop any of the following symptoms after a surgical procedure using a warming blanket system, contact your physician immediately:

  • Excessive pain
  • Redness around surgical incision
  • Warmth around incision
  • Drainage from incision
  • Joint swelling
  • Fever

Any of the above symptoms may indicate a serious complication. Although surgeries typically come with minor pain and discomfort, pain that feels excessively intense should be reported to your health care provider without delay. An untreated infection can lead to additional surgeries, amputation, and can even be fatal.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Personal Injury Law Firm

If you have been injured by a warming blanket or any other medical device, we can help. The legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP has been protecting the rights of injured patients for over 50 years. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related expenses. Our skilled, knowledgeable attorneys will help you understand your legal options prior to moving forward. Contact us today for a free consultation