What are the risks of using a Bair Hugger?

What are the risks of using a Bair Hugger? Bair Hugger blankets disrupt the critically honed environment that doctors and medical professionals construct in the operating room. It changes the flow of air circulation in the body and in the room itself. The worst consequence of this imbalance is usually an infection but other detrimental side effects can result. Infections occur because the Bair Hugger sucks up bacteria from hospital floors and other places and sends it directly into the patient’s body. These infections wreak even more havoc than traditional ones because of their entrance through open wounds and other surgical sites. Here are some of the most common forms of infections/conditions associated with the use of Bair Hugger blankets:

  • MRSA : a highly drug resistant form of bacteria, called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Deep joint infection : which can cause tissue death throughout the hip joint. Patients often need to undergo another surgery to repair this damage. Surgical procedures can be high risk when performed so close together.
  • Septic hip infection/knee infection : Sepsis is the clinical term for an infection that has reached the blood and these infections are very dangerous due to the ability of the bacteria to become mobile. Sepsis can result in the infection of critical organs such as the heart or lungs.

However, other complications and costs can emerge, including some of the following:

  • Amputations
  • Multiple surgeries
  • Extended hospital stays
  • Permanent and total disabilities
  • Death

Since resigning from his post atop Arizant in the early 2000’s, the inventor of the Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, has relentlessly worked to expose its problems to the public. He illustrated the stakes of the issue when he told the New York Times that he made the following statement: “The question for you to answer is the following; is Bair Hugger going to be replaced quickly and catastrophically by a mandatory recall, or do you survive a voluntary recall and live to fight another day?” His critiques of the Bair Hugger largely focus on the manner in which it contributes to the spread of bacteria. Also, noting his opponents’ use of many studies attesting to the Bair Hugger’s safety, he responded that those strategically failed to include any tests of the heating system during orthopedic surgeries.

The risks and costs associated with the use of the Bair Hugger blanket continue to be studied. Reports estimate that bacteria levels are 2,000 times higher when the blanket is used versus when it is not. We continue to work with clients who have suffered after using one and will examine every aspect of injury and cost that may arise.

To read more about Dr. Augustine’s critique of his own device, click the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/business/25invent.html

To read a study that linked usage of the Bair Hugger blanket with increased bacteria levels, click the following link:

http://www.bjj.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/95-B/3/407.abstract

For additional information see the following pages:

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