The controversy surrounding Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Just one year ago, there were approximately a dozen lawsuits pending against the medical device’s manufacturer, 3M. Today, there are nearly 900. Lawsuits claim that the warming blankets caused surgical site infections. Even worse, new evidence shows that 3M may have known about the risks for years, but failed to warn patients and physicians.
Most commonly used in knee and hip replacement surgeries, surgical warming blankets are associated with an even greater risk of causing infections in people with certain conditions. Some of these high-risk conditions include diabetes, immune deficiencies, obesity, and peripheral vascular diseases. Although the Bair Hugger warming blankets continue to be used widely throughout the medical world, questions about the device’s safety are quickly taking center stage. If you’ve been injured by a surgical warming blanket, contact a Boston defective medical product attorney today.
How Can Surgical Warming Blankets Cause Infections in Patient?
It may seem far-fetched to imagine a blanket causing life-threatening infections in a patient. How is this possible? Well, it’s not really the blanket itself that causes the infection, but rather the warming system that forces warm air into the blankets to keep a patient warm. Because the warming system sits on the floor, it can easily become contaminated. If contamination occurs, the warm air being forced into the blankets can also be contaminated. Having just undergone surgery, the patient will likely have at least one open wound on his or her body. If contaminated air reaches a surgical incision or wound, the bacteria may enter the patient’s body, resulting in infection. Basically, the warming system can circulate the contamination from a hospital floor into warming blankets that are placed directly on the patient’s skin. If you’ve been harmed by a defective medical product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.
Why Are Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Still Being Used?
If these devices are so dangerous, why are they still being used? Short answer – it’s complicated. For starters, the same question could be asked of a seemingly-infinite number of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, vehicle parts, and other consumer goods. The desire to get products to market fast can cast a dangerous shadow on potential dangers. Furthermore, determining the exact source of an infection is not exactly easy. This is especially true in hospitals. Patients acquire infections in hospitals with shocking frequency. In addition, infections can take weeks to become apparent. Proving that the nearly 900 claimants acquired infections via surgical warming blankets, therefore, can be challenging. That being said, the medical community isn’t going to voluntarily shoulder the blame for warming blanket infections. And in light of new evidence, physicians are becoming increasingly skeptical of the product’s safety. Continue reading