Nearly 80% of all major hospitals in the United States use the Bair Hugger inflatable forming blanket during surgeries. The device is designed to keep the patient's body at a specific temperature to ensure better surgical procedure outcomes. However, research has revealed that the medical device can spread deadly bacteria through the incision. Many patients who have developed the life-threatening infection have filed Bair Hugger lawsuits to obtain financial recovery for their damages. However, there is a specific time limit based on the statute of limitations that determines how long you have to file a case.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents patients who were injured after undergoing surgery using the Bair Hugger forced-air forming blanket and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has successfully prosecuted cases for our clients who were injured by the negligent actions of others. Our attorneys are available to answer any legal questions on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if your injuries were a result of a defective medical device or medical malpractice. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
The Statute of Limitations
Every state has a statute of limitations that prohibits victims from bringing actions after a specified amount of time. The amount of time the patient has, though, depends on the kind of damages they suffer. However, not filing the necessary paperwork before the statute of limitations expiration deadline could cause the patient to lose their rights to ever obtain compensation in the future.
- If a victim brings a negligence or products liability action for personal injuries, they have two years from the date of the incident to bring a lawsuit. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202 (2010); 735 ILCS 5/13-205 (2010).
- If the injured patient brings a negligence or products liability action for property damage, they have five years from the date of the incident to bring a lawsuit. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202 (2010); 735 ILCS 5/13-205 (2010).
- The statute of limitations may be extended if the victim reasonably did not discern they were injured during an incident and only discovered the harm later. In that case, the patient will get the same length of time from when they discovered or reasonably should have discovered their injury. 735 ILCS 5/13-213(d) (2010).
- With products liability cases, Illinois still prohibits initiating a lawsuit if the victim does not file the documents within 12 years from when the item was first sold, 10 years from when the victim suffered harm by it, or 10 years from when the device was first altered. See 735 ILCS 5/13-213(b), (c)(2) (2010).
How Does the Bair Hugger Work?
The Bair Hugger is a surgery-assisting blanket medical device that uses forced air to keep the patient warm during a surgical procedure. Surgeons use the device to regulate the patient's body temperature. The blanket's attached hoses push regulated warm air into the warming device and a precise rate to maintain a specific temperature as determined by the surgeon.
Unfortunately, there is a significant design flaw with the forced air heater. The New York Times published an article in December 2010 saying that Dr. Scott Augustine, the inventor of the Bair Hugger device, is warning surgeons to discontinue the use of the warming blanket due to serious problems.
While the device was originally hailed as a game changer and had manypositive surgical outcomes, the doctor now says there are significant dangers to the patient when the device is used. The doctor says that the device “can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.”
Current Bair Hugger Lawsuits
Many attorneys working on behalf of plaintiffs filing Bair Hugger lawsuits are claiming negligence by 3M that led to the life-threatening injuries suffered by their clients. The lawyers are claiming that the device manufacturer knew, or should have known, of the potential risks associated with infection when the device was being used. Lawsuit documents reveal that the manufacturer failed to redesign their defective product to ensure patient safety and failed to warn patients and doctors of the known dangers.
Today, thousands of plaintiffs have filed Bair Hugger claims against 3M. Many of these cases are now before a federal judge who will hear the case in multidistrict litigation (MDL) court. Some of these court filings have revealed legal arguments including:
- The Bair Hugger is unreasonably dangerous to patients because of its defective design.
- The device manufacturer (3M) was negligent in the design.
- 3M failed to perform proper tests to ensure the medical device was safe.
- The company failed to warn patients and surgeons that there was an increased potential risk of developing a surgery-associated infection.
- The device manufacturer hid evidence of known dangers from the public and government regulatory agencies including the FDA and misrepresented the equipment's safety.
Warming Blanket Associated Risks
Medical researchers have linked the Bair Hugger blanket-like warming system to the increased potential risk of life-threatening infections including MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Studies have identified that the device can release airborne contaminants when working in a sterile operating room. The patient is exposed to the contaminated air filled with deadly bacteria and other toxic pollutants that can enter the surgical site and because of a post-surgery infection.
The other known infections that are linked to using a Bair Hugger warming device include blood infections (sepsis), bone infections (osteomyelitis), knee or hip infections, and deep joint infections. Some of the common side effects associated with a Bair Hugger-associated infection include:
- Night Sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Chills or fever
- Skin irregularity, cut or pimple that is filled with fluid
- Severe, intense pain
- Impaired/stiff mobility and pain
- Surgical site redness or drainage
- Intense chest pains when breathing or coughing
- Swollen surgical site
Individuals most at risk of developing life-threatening infections after undergoing a surgical procedure using a Bair Hugger warming device include those who suffer from:
- Poor blood flow circulation
- Lymphoma, HIV, and other immune deficiencies
- The side effects of chemotherapy and other immunosuppression treatments
The serious infection caused by the warming blanket could force the patient to undergo additional treatments and surgeries that include:
- Multiple revision surgical procedures
- Limb amputation
- Physical therapies
- A surgical procedure to implant antibiotic spacers
An FDA Recall
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), 3M issued an “URGENT MEDICAL DEVICE RECALL” warning on January 19, 2018, that was sent four days later to its customers in a letter identifying a design change to the 3M Bair Hugger full access underbody warming blanket. This warning included model #63500 and #63700 noting that “these blankets are more susceptible to unintended occlusion of airflow resulting in limited or partial inflation during use.”
The device recall documentation asked hospitals to take immediate action that included:
- “Please immediately identify the defective product listed above, remove from your inventory and DO NOT USE.”
- “Please dispose of all defective product per your institutional protocol and document disposal in the Recall Acknowledgment Form.”
MDL Product Liability Litigation
Thousands of injured surgical patients have filed lawsuits against 3M, and Arizant Healthcare, Inc. alleging that their warming blanket is defective and caused them serious infections and other health problems. In December 2015, the J.P.M.L. (Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation) consolidated all Bair Hugger lawsuits filed in the federal District of Minnesota court into a centralized case (MDL #2666). These cases are merged together to share the investigatory procedures that will be separated and heard in individual cases once bellwether trials have identified causation and damages.
In May 2016 attorneys working on behalf of plaintiffs injured by the medical device filed a formal complaint in the US District Court District of Minnesota against the defendants 3M company and Arizant Healthcare, Inc. The attorneys claim that the companies designed, manufactured, and sold their defective medical device to unsuspecting hospitals, failing to warn surgeons and patients of the defective design.
The legal documentation revealed that:
- “Scientific studies have shown that as this warmed air rises against the downward airflow in the operating room, it deposits bacteria from the non-sterile portions of the operating theater to the surgical site.”
- “Scientific studies have also shown the inadequate air filtration system of the Bair Hugger allows pathogenic-carrying cells, including but not limited to isolates of S aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci (“CoNS”), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”), to penetrate the intake filter of the device and colonize inside the device.”
Many of these cases are built on allegations that the manufacturers' negligence in designing, manufacturing, promoting, marketing, and selling a defective medical device. The plaintiffs are alleging that 3M and Arizant Healthcare, Inc.:
- Knew, or should have known, of the potential serious side effects associated with using a Bair Hugger warming blanket device.
- The manufacturer's failure to warn surgeons and patients of the risks.
- The manufacturer's failure to redesign their defective device to ensure patient safety.
- The manufacturers hid known evidence of the product defect and denounced proven scientific data that identified the risks.
Receiving Financial Compensation
All these attorneys working on behalf of their clients are aiming the basis of their lawsuits on obtaining compensation for the victims' damages. The attorney will seek to secure monetary recovery from the defendants to pay the injured patient's:
- Medical expenses
- Hospital bills
- The cost of all future treatments, therapies, rehabilitation, and surgeries
- Lost wages due to time away from work caused by their disability;
- The loss of potential future earnings because they are no longer able to maintain their existing job;
- Non-economic damages including pain, suffering, mental anguish, and emotional stress;
- Funeral costs and burial expenses associated with a wrongful death lawsuit.
In many cases, the injured patient is unaware that their surgeon used a Bair Hugger warming device during their surgical procedure. However, if you suspect that their surgery-associated infection was caused by a defective device, a competent personal injury attorney specialized in product liability cases can examine your medical records to confirm your suspicions. Your lawyer can determine if the surgeon used a dangerous device and if you qualify to file a Bair Hugger lawsuit to ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.
Hiring an Attorney
The defective medical device injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand that the injuries you have endured are not your fault but the product manufacturer that sold a faulty device. We have successfully obtained millions on behalf of the victims and their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage and we can help your family too. We prosecuted cases where device manufacturers have designed, marketed, and sold defective products to the unsuspecting public.
Our legal team encourages you to contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. We accept all personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, and product liability injury claims through contingency fee arrangements. This legal contract postpones the payment of legal services until after we have successfully completed your case through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.
Our law firm gets results quickly because we understand you need money now. We probably offer every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf you owe us nothing. Do not delay in filing your case until after the statute of limitations expires were you could forfeit your rights to seek compensation at any time in the future. All information you share with our law office will stay confidential.
For additional information see the following pages:
- What is a Bair Hugger blanket?
- What are the risks of using a Bair Hugger?
- Has the FDA taken any action against the makers of the Bair Hugger?
- What are the laws surrounding Bair Hugger accidents?
- Is there a class action lawsuit against the makers of Bair Hugger?
- Have there been any cases involving Bair Hugger blankets?
- What damages could I recover in my Bair Hugger lawsuit?