Hip Replacement Surgical Infection Caused By Warming Blanket, Lawsuit Alleges

According to allegations raised in a recent product liability lawsuit filed against 3M Corporation, a California man suffered a severe and debilitating surgical infection from a warming blanket used during a hip replacement, known as a 3M Bair Hugger. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Robet Nelson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California on September 11, naming 3M and their Arizant Healthcare subsidiary as defendants.

Nelson indicates that he developed a serious surgical infection during a right hip replacement in April 2014, which he blames on the use of a Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket that covered him during the procedure. The lawsuit alleges that the design of the warming blanket caused bacteria and contaminants from the operating room floor to be blown into the surgical wound.

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Bair Hugger Lawsuits

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

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The 3M Bair Hugger is a popular warming blanket used during most hip and knee replacement procedures throughout the U.S., helping doctors to control body temperature and reduce the risk of bleeding. However, concerns have emerged in recent years that the forced air warming system may disrupt the laminar air flow in the operating room, allowing contaminants to enter the sterile surgical field.

As a result of the hip replacement surgical infection, Nelson indicates that he received oral and intravenous antibiotics and had to undergo another surgery to irrigate and debride the infected area. In addition to the extensive medical treatment, Nelson alleges that the infection has impaired his ability to walk and left him suffering permanent damage.

The case joins a growing number of similar hip replacement surgical infection lawsuits and knee replacement surgical infection lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide who experienced problems following use of a 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket.

More than 50,000 Bair Hugger units are in hospitals nationwide, and the warming blankets have been used on millions of patients. The lawsuits claim that the manufacturer has known about the infection risk for years, yet failed to make design changes or provide warnings to the medical community.

Last month, a motion was filed to centralize all Bair Hugger infection lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, seeking to establish consolidated pretrial proceedings before one judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

At the time the request was filed, there were at least 14 similar lawsuits over Bair Hugger surgical infections pending in six different federal district courts. However, as lawyers continue to review and file cases, it is ultimately expected that there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide.

Centralizing the litigation before one judge is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues that will arise in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

Nelson’s lawsuit presents claims against the manufacturers for negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages as a result of the surgical infection.

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