The 3M Company, already facing hundreds of lawsuits over its widely-used patient warming system, disputes that it is conducting a “silent recall” for the Bair Hugger system.
In a statement issued last month, 3M blamed Dr. Scott Augustine for allegedly disseminating rumors of a Bair Hugger recall. Among other things, the statement accused him of issuing mass emails via the Ortho`pedicinfectionAdvisory.org website that suggest 3M is in the process of replacing the Bair Hugger with an alternative device. The statement also points out that Augustine’s company, Augustine Temperature Management, markets a competing system.
According to RXInjuryHelp.com, the Bair Hugger system is used by more than 80% of the nation’s hospitals help patients maintain their body temperature during surgery. The apparatus consists of a portable hearting unit that draws in air from the surrounding area. Once the air has been warmed, it is forced though a flexible plastic hose and into a disposable, inflatable blanket that has been draped over the patient.
Ironically, the Bair Hugger was invented by Dr. Scott Augustine. But he now claims that the forced air warming system is not safe for use in surgeries that involve implanted device, like hip and knee replacements.
“With regard to orthopedic infections, a scare is what’s needed. This product should never be on another orthopedic patient,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015.
3M and Arizant are now named in more than 1,100 Bair Hugger lawsuits, all of which were filed on behalf of individuals who developed deep joint infections following implant surgeries where the system was utilized. Like Augustine, these plaintiffs claim that the system suffers from a design defect that allows potentially contaminated air from the operating room floor to come into contact with the sterile surgical site, greatly increasing the odds a patient undergoing joint replacement will develop a deep joint infection. Plaintiffs further allege that 3M and its Arizant Healthcare, Inc. subsidiary have been aware of this issue for years, but have failed to implement appropriate design changes or warn the medical community about this issue.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP represents plaintiffs in Bair Hugger lawsuits. To learn more about filing a claim, please call (888) 707-5440.