In the late 1980s, Dr. Scott Augustine, an anesthesiologist in Minnesota, invented the Bair Hugger in order to combat the risk of hypothermia during surgical procedures. The Bair Hugger, essentially a series of disposable blankets that are used in conjunction with a forced-air heater, was developed to keep patients warm during surgery. These products quickly became standard in many operating rooms.
But now, Dr. Augustine is warning that the Bair Hugger blankets could put patients undergoing orthopedic surgeries such as hip and knee replacements at increased risk of developing deep joint infections. Lawsuits have already been filed against the Bair Hugger’s manufacturers, 3M and Arizant.
If you believe you’ve suffered a deep joint infection as a result of the use of a Bair Hugger blanket during surgery, please call GoldenbergLaw today at 612-436-5026 to discuss your options.
What is The Bair Hugger? How Does It Work?
The Bair Hugger is used to attempt to combat potential hypothermia by circulating warmed air over the patient’s body during surgery. The product is essentially a disposable blanket that covers the patient and, using a 0.2 micron filter, spreads warm air across the body.
What Went Wrong?
Dr. Augustine resigned from the company he founded in 2002, and he has recently argued that his invention (which was first approved by the FDA in 1987) can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections during orthopedic surgery.
The device’s manufacturers point at many studies which they say prove the product is safe. But according to Dr. Augustine, those studies do not analyze the effect of forced air warming during orthopedic surgery- including knee and hip replacement procedures.
By contrast, several other studies (summaries of which can be found here) seem to indicate that forced air warming does increase the risk of infection during these procedures. Lawsuits have already been filed against 3M and Arizant alleging that the companies knew of the dangers posed by the Bair Hugger.
3M and Arizant continue to market Bair Hugger products, and the FDA has not issued a recall.
 See Doctor Says a Device He Invented Poses Risks, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/business/25invent.html?_r=1.