3M’s Bair Hugger surgical blanket is at the center of nearly 2,000 lawsuits due to allegations of the device causing unwanted side effects, including serious infections in patients that used the device. A set of eight bellwether trials have been selected, from the proposed trial pool which consisted of 16 potential lawsuits, according to the May 2017 pretrial order. The first Bair Hugger trial is set to begin in February 2018.
The 3M Bair Hugger is a device that may be placed over an individual after an orthopedic implant or replacement surgery in order to warm their body temperature in order to assist in speeding the recovery process. Ultimately, the surrounding area’s warm air is facilitated through a hose into the blanket and then onto the patient, this is known as “forced air warming.” Almost 80% of the leading hospitals across the United States use the Bair Hugger surgical blanket to assist in the prevention of patient’s hyperthermia. There are 25 different designs, shapes and sizes in order to meet the individual patient’s body and type of surgery. These blankets are also known as one-use blankets because they are disposed of after being used in the patient’s overall procedure.
Individuals have brought lawsuits against the 3M, and its subsidiary Arizant Healthcare, due to the negative side effects that are allegedly caused by the device’s defective design. Many have made claims that the device’s design allows for contaminated air from the surround area, such as the operating room floor, to travel towards the sterile area that the patient just received surgery. If these contaminants or bacteria do reach the sterile surgical site the risk for infection, whether it in the form of sepsis (blood infection), deep joint infection, septic hip or knee or MRSA, is significantly increased for patients. Plaintiffs have also seen unwanted or negative side effects including, but not limited to: