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Chris and James Welsh of Welsh & Welsh
Proudly fighting for the Omaha community for over 65 years.

Is a Popular Surgical Blanket Potentially Dangerous?

Published on Sep 5, 2017 at 1:27 pm in Product Liability.

Surgical blankets are used during long surgeries to help regulate a patient’s body temperature.  One of the most popular surgical blankets, used in 4 out of 5 hospitals today, is the 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket.  Since 1987, the Bair Hugger has been used in over 200 million surgeries nationwide.

The Bair Hugger warming blanket works by sending heated air through a hose and into a blanket that is draped over a patient during long surgical procedures.  These single use blankets are common in orthopedic joint replacement surgeries, like knee and hip replacements.

Artificial joints are especially susceptible to infection.  Bacteria naturally found in the air enters the body and immediately begins to search for a place to settle and grow.  Anything that is artificial inside the human body will be a bacteria’s first choice location, as it is not living material with antibodies ready to fight the bacteria off.

For years, it was assumed that the heated air that circulates through the Bair Hugger’s hose and blanket was sterile air.  Surgical environments are kept sterile, but bacteria in the air is constantly seeking a warm environment where it can grow.  The air around the Bair Hugger warming blanket naturally becomes warm while the blanket is in use, and the warm air becomes trapped under the surgical table.  This air is then pulled through the hose and into the blanket covering the patient with vulnerable, open surgical sites.

Recently, more than 50 lawsuits have been filed against the Bair Hugger’s manufacturer, 3M.  Orthopedic surgery patients are reporting experiencing serious post-surgery bacterial infections like MRSA and sepsis.  MRSA infections have life-long consequences that patients are never able to escape.

Medical costs to treat bacterial infections can be astounding.  Extensive antibiotic treatment, additional surgery, and even amputation can result from a newly placed artificial joint becoming infected.  Patients undergoing these life changing prodecures trust that the medical equipment used during their surgery is going to protect them rather than bring them harm.

As lawsuits against the company involving their Bair Hugger warming blanket began to surface, 3M showed no concern for patients claiming to have been victimized by their defective product.  3M made no investigation into the potential defect and continues to market and sell the Bair Hugger for use in hospitals across the U.S.

Manufacturers of medical products have a responsibility to investigate claims that their products are defective to potentially prevent future patients from becoming sick.  3M’s negligent behavior and failure to warn doctors and hospitals of the patients reporting post-surgery complications puts patients across the country at risk everyday.

Welsh & Welsh is an Omaha law firm that is seeking contact with patients who have experienced an infection after a surgery where a Bair Hugger warming blanket was used.  Filing a claim against 3M can help award victims with the financial compensation they need to pay for the ongoing medical treatment they may face as a result of their infection.  It will also hold 3M responsible as a negligent product manufacturer.

If you or someone you love have suffered from infection after a surgery where a warming blanket was used, a Bair Hugger warming blanket lawyer can help set you on the path to recovery.  Welsh & Welsh is an Omaha law firm that is experienced in handling complicated product liability cases.  Contact our team today for a free, zero-obligation consultation of your case.