Surgery is a traumatic experience for the body. Between the actual surgery and the anesthesia, a patient’s body is extremely vulnerable while on the operating table. For that reason, surgical teams take great pains to sterilize both themselves and the operating theater before surgery begins.
One of the dangers associated with surgery is hypothermia. The anesthesia used in the operating room prevents a patient from shivering, which is how the body normally warms itself. In addition, opening part of the body for surgery will lower a person’s core body temperature.
Hypothermia is dangerous because it makes the body less able to fight off infections. Since an infection in an already vulnerable person can be fatal, surgeons and operating staff keep patients warm using heated blankets.
One of these blankets is the Bair Hugger warming blanket manufactured by 3M Company. The Bair Hugger blanket consists of a set of inflatable tubes that are filled with warm air from a pump. The blankets have been used in over 200 million surgeries since they were introduced in 1987.
Recently, over 50 patients have filed lawsuits against 3M, alleging that the blankets caused deep joint infections. The plaintiffs allege that the heat pumps can alter the flow of sterile air in the operating room, and can stir up germs or contaminants from the operating room floor. These germs can then settle on the patient’s body or on surgical tools.
The plaintiffs point to several studies that have suggested the warming devices are especially dangerous during surgeries to implant artificial hips, knees, and heart valves. The studies suggest that the germs from the floor can settle on the implant, causing a deep infection.
Patients with joint infections may notice stiffness, swelling, warmth or redness, fatigue, and fever. If you or a loved one develops these symptoms after a joint replacement surgery, contact your doctor immediately. If the surgeons used a Bair Hugger warming blanket during your operation, you may be able to file a claim for your injuries.
If you have suffered injuries from an unsafe or defective product, the experienced product liability legal team at Roberts & Roberts is here to help with compassionate, aggressive representation. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.