Warming Blanket Lawsuit Filed After Hip Implant Surgical Infection
3M Company faces another product liability lawsuit over problems with their Bair Hugger forced-air warming system, alleging that the surgical warming blanket caused a severe infection following a hip replacement where the controversial device was used.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Bobby Thomas in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on April 13, against 3M and its Arizant Healthcare subsidiary.
Thomas indicates that a 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket was used during a procedure in April 2013, and caused contaminants to be introduced into the open hip implant surgical wound. As a result, Thomas required multiple additional surgical procedures to remove portion of the hip and clean out the infected area only weeks later, resulting in continuing problems and impaired mobility.
The Bair Hugger has been commonly used during thousands of hip replacement and knee replacement procedures in recent years, using forced-air warming to control body temperature during the procedure. The device blows hot air onto the body during surgery, but has been linked to problems where it disrupts the operating room air flow, causing bacteria and contaminants from the floor and the device’s filtration system to entire the area around the open wound.
Due to alleged problems with the design of the warming blanket, a growing number of similar hip implant infection lawsuits and knee implant infection lawsuits have been filed against 3M over the past year, each raising nearly identical allegations.
“Any reasonable and competent physician would not use a Bair Hugger in an orthopedic implant surgery if they were fully apprised of the dangers and risks associated with doing so,” Thomas indicates. “However, through misrepresentations to the public, medical community, and the FDA, the Defendant actively and knowingly concealed a propensity of these devices to cause infection in orthopedic implant surgeries.”
Amid the growing number of nearly identical lawsuits filed against 3M Company throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established coordinated pretrial proceedings for the cases in December 2015, centralizing all federal Bair Hugger surgical wound infection lawsuits before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in the District of Minnesota, as part of an MDL, or Multi-District Litigation.
It is ultimately expected that several thousand complaints will be filed on behalf of individuals nationwide, as hip and knee implant infection lawyers continue to review and file claims for individuals diagnosed with MRSA, sepsis or other deep joint infections following use of the surgical warming blanket.
As part of any coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Ericksen, it is expected that a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates. Known as “bellwether” cases, the outcomes are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the litigation, potentially promoting settlement negotiations to resolve cases brought by individuals who have experienced problems.
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