Hip and Knee Replacement Warming Blanket Lawsuits Over Severe Infection Begin to Mount

A growing number of knee replacement infection lawsuits and hip replacement infection lawsuits continue to be filed against the makers of a popular forced air warming blanket used during many surgical procedures in hospitals nationwide. 

The 3M Bair Hugger is a surgical warming system that involves a blanket that is draped over the body during surgery, with hot air blown into it to help control body temperature and reduce the risk of surgical complications. However, the forced air design of the hip and knee replacement warming blanket have been blamed for severe and debilitating deep joint infections nationwide.

Each of the complaints filed against 3M Company and it’s Arizant Healthcare subsidiary raise common allegation, claiming that the manufacturer knew or should have known that the Bair Hugger may cause contaminants or particles from the operating room floor to enter the sterile surgical site, yet failed to adequately warn surgeons or make design changes to reduce the infection risk.

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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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Since December 2015, all Bair Hugger warming blanket lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in the District of Minnesota, as part of an MDL, or Multi-District Litigation.

According to the latest case list released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, there were at least 340 cases pending in the MDL as of June 15. However, as hip and knee replacement warming blanket infection lawyers continue to review and file claims for individuals nationwide, it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases may be centralized before Judge Ericksen.

A complaint (PDF) filed last week by Douglas Anaya is one of the latest to joint the litigation, indicating that use of a Bair Hugger warming blanket during a knee replacement in June 2014 caused a severe infection. As a result of the infection, Anaya indicates that he required multiple surgical procedures to remove the implant and clean the infected area within the nine months after his original implant surgery, and that he continues to suffer impaired mobility, pain and difficulty engaging in normal daily tasks two years later.

“The Defendants concealed and continues to conceal its knowledge of the Bair Hugger’s unreasonably dangerous risks from Plaintiff, other consumers, and the medical community,” states Anaya in the lawsuit filed June 21. “The Defendants failed to conduct adequate and sufficient post-marketing surveillance after it began marketing, advertising, distributing and selling the Bair Hugger.”

The case filed by Anaya will be consolidated with other similar claims for coordinated pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues raised in the cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

As part of the Bair Hugger MDL 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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