Knee Surgery Infection Resulting in Two-Stage Revision Caused by 3M Warming Blanket, Lawsuit Alleges

According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed this week, a California woman indicates that she required two-stage revision surgery as a result of a deep joint infection she developed during a knee replacement, which she claims was caused by a Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket sold by 3M Company.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Gloria Irby in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on January 11, naming 3M and it’s Arizant Healthcare subsidiary as defendants.

Irby indicates that a 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket was used during her knee surgery to control body temperature. After the total knee replacement, she began experiencing persistent knee pain and was diagnosed with a deep joint infection.

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Bair Hugger Lawsuits

Bair Hugger warming blankets may be the cause of knee or hip surgery infections.


As a result of the infection, Irby indicates that she was forced to undergo a two-stage revision surgery to have the implant removed, which typically involves one procedure to remove the existing implant and place an antibiotic spacer. A second procedure is then performed to implant a new artificial joint.

Irby states that the knee surgery infection has also caused her to require further treatment, including hospitalization and extended IV antibiotics through a PICC line to treat continued infections that were allegedly caused by the warming blanket.

3M Bair Hugger Infection Risks

The 3M Bair Hugger surgical warmer is a popular device found in many operating rooms throughout the United States, which is commonly used during hip and knee replacement procedures to keep the body warm and improve surgical outcomes.

In recent months, there have been an increasing number of lawsuits filed nationwide that allege the forced-air system poses an unreasonable danger for patients, potentially causing particles and contaminants to enter the sterile surgical field.

Irby’s complaint claims that 3M knew or should have known about the Bair Hugger infection risks, and instead of fixing the problem, chose to defend the warming blanket.

Similar allegations have been raised in other knee replacement infection lawsuits and hip replacement infection lawsuits filed in courts throughout the U.S. in recent months.

Last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to centralize all Bair Hugger lawsuits pending in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in the District of Minnesota, as part of an MDL, or Multi-District Litigation.

As hip and knee infection lawyers continue to review and file additional lawsuits, it is ultimately expected that 3M and Arizant will face hundreds, if not thousands, of cases brought on behalf of individuals diagnosed with MRSA, sepsis or other deep joint infections following surgery.

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 hip or knee surgery infections following use of the Bair Hugger warming blanket.


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