Knee Replacement Infection Lawsuit

Published on June 30, 2015 by Sandy Liebhard

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Were you the victim of a serious, post-operative infection that followed the implantation of an artificial knee? If your surgery involved the use of a forced-air warming blanket, this device might be responsible for your pain and suffering. A number of hip and knee replacement infection lawsuits are currently pending in U.S. courts, all of which allege that these systems can expose patients to contaminated air from the operating room floor, greatly increasing their risk of developing a dangerous post-op infection.

If you are facing months or years of additional procedures and treatments because of complications associated with the use of a forced air warmer device, you may be eligible to pursue legal action of your own. Doing so could be the only way to ensure that your receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages incurred due to your injuries. To learn more about your legal rights, we urge you to call to discuss filing a knee replacement infection lawsuit with one of the experienced medical device attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard LLP.

Knee Replacement Infections

While knee replacement surgery relieves pain in the vast majority of patients and helps them to live fuller, more active lives, complications do occur. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, roughly 1 in 100 joint replacement patients will experience a post-op infection, either around the wound or deep around the artificial implant. Such infections may present while the patient is still in the hospital, but they have also been known to develop years after the initial surgery. The signs and symptoms of an infected joint replacement include:

  • Increased pain or stiffness in a previously well-functioning joint
  • Swelling
  • Warmth and redness around the wound
  • Wound drainage
  • Fevers, chills and night sweats
  • Fatigue

If a knee replacement infection affects the implant itself, the body’s immune system will not be able to attack the responsible pathogen due to the metal and plastic that makes up the device. Even with aggressive antibiotic treatment, a patient may require repeat surgeries – including revision surgery to replace the artificial joint – to bring the infection under control.

Forced Air Warmers and Deep Joint Infections

The 3M Bair Hugger and other forced-air warming systems consist of a portable heater/blower that is connected by a flexible hose to a disposable blanket. The blanket blows hot air on a patient’s exposed skin to ensure that normal body temperature is maintained during the procedure.

According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 2011, a group of surgeons in the U.K. reported a dramatic 74% decrease in deep joint infections when they discontinued using forced air warming blankets during total joint replacement surgery. In 2012, another scientific paper published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reported increased particulate counts with forced warming compared to radiant warming. “The convection currents increased the particle concentration 1000-fold (2 174 000 particles/m3 for forced-air warming vs 1000 particles/m3 for radiant warming and 2000 particles/m3 for the control) by drawing potentially contaminated particles from below the operating table into the surgical site,” the study noted.

It should also be noted that the inventor of the 3M Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott D. Augustine, has been recommending since 2010 that hospitals refrain from using the system for joint replacement surgeries. In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Augustine asserted that the device may spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections when it is used in conjunction with implantable devices.

Knee Replacement Infection Lawsuit Reviews

The attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard LLP are currently offering free, no-obligation legal reviews to individuals who allegedly experienced deep joint replacement infections due to a forced air warmer system. To learn more about filing a knee replacement infection lawsuit, please contact our office today by calling 212-779-1414.

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