American conglomerate 3M, who has recently been sued for manufacturing and distributing faulty earplugs to the U.S. Army, is also being sued over their Bair Hugger Warming System meant to help patients undergo and recover from surgery without going into hypothermia. Plaintiffs allege that the Bair Hugger Warming System caused them to develop infections by transferring bacteria to open surgical wounds.
The Bair Hugger Warming System is a Forced Air Warming (FAW) used in hospitals and consists of a disposable blanket, so that blankets are not passed on to other vulnerable patients, and an air-filter that pushes hot air through ducts inside the blanket to maintain the core temperature of patients during and after surgery. 3M has been manufacturing this device since 2010 when it bought Arizant Inc., the company who originally designed the Bair Hugger warming system, and as early as 2011, scientists have been concerned that in the process of sucking in air from operating rooms, FAWs like the Bair Hugger, actually carry bacteria alongside the warm air, potentially contaminating the site of surgery.
For instance, a study published in 2011 showed that even after filtration, 58% of FAWs were internally generating airborne contaminants. Furthermore, microorganisms, including antibiotic resistant bacteria, were detected in 92.3% of the internal air path surfaces of the air blowers. Other studies have come out since then further raising concern over the safety of FAWs like the Bair Hugger Warming System and suggesting that clinicians avoid using FAWs during surgeries involving implants.
A Second Chance
In 2018, multidistrict litigation or MDL 2666 was created to handle the then increasing number of suits alleging the development of infections caused by the Bair Hugger Warming System. In 2018, after only two bellwether trials, the court decided to grant 3M a summary judgement and to exclude the plaintiffs’ experts based on the court ruling that there was no scientific evidence that the risk of infection to the patient of forced air warming was any greater than that of other warming devices or of no warming. Due to the exclusion of evidence, plaintiffs were not able to prove their claims which led to the court to throw out all the remaining lawsuits in the MDL.
However, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has recently overturned Ericksen’s decision, indicating that there was wrongly excluded testimony from medical experts supporting the Plaintiffs’ claims . As a result of the 8th Circuit Ruling that came in August of this year, all of the nearly 6,000 lawsuits have now been reinstated and pose a liability for 3M once again. More importantly, the appeals court also indicated that regardless of the court’s concerns over the validity of the evidence brought forward by plaintiffs, the concerns were not grave enough to warrant the plaintiffs’ witnesses be excluded. This time around, the evidence and experts that might sway the court will be included to support the Plaintiffs’ position. As a result, those who were thought that they had no legal relief have been given a second chance to find the justice they have been seeking for years.
If you underwent a hip or knee replacement (no earlier than 2014) and used the Bair Hugger Warming System, developed an infection no more than a year after your procedure, and had to go through an additional procedure to clean the infection or get a prosthetic, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our team at Oppenheim Law recognizes the emotional burden these impairments can have on individuals and their lives. That is why our firm provides a team of professionals committed to zealously represent our clients.
From the Trenches,
Bair Hugger Lawsuit Attorneys
Originally posted at: https://www.oppenheimlaw.com/bair-hugger-lawsuit-attorneys/