When a medical device company finds out that its product may be potentially dangerous and continues to encourage its use, there’s something wrong! In the case of manufacturer Bair Hugger, that’s purportedly exactly what happened.
When undergoing hip and knee replacement surgery, a patient’s body temperature tends to drop. Studies have shown that ameliorating this effect reduces bleeding and recovery time, among other benefits. In response, surgeons normally order the use of some kind of warming method such as intravenous fluid warming systems or warming blankets. One innovation to the blanket method was the invention of a forced-air system that uses a hose to distribute warm air to all parts of the patient’s body through a special blanket. Small vents on the underside of the blanket allow the warm air to circulate, then exhaust under the surgical table.
Here’s the problem. The warm air coming out underneath the table can actually spread bacteria throughout the room, some of which land on the surgical site. This can cause infections deep in the affected joint which are very challenging to address. The Bair Hugger lawsuit alleges that although the company knew about this hazard they neglected to warn healthcare providers, nor did they redesign or recall the blanket.
Although we host many kinds of bacteria in and on our bodies, our immune system usually protects us from major infection. But because of the materials used in hip and knee replacements- metal and plastic- the body’s effort to fight infection around the implants is much more difficult.
If you have diabetes, any immune deficiencies, are undergoing any immuno-suppressive treatments like chemotherapy, are obese, or suffer from poor circulation to the extremities your risk for infection from a Bair Hugger blanket is increased.
Some important symptoms of infection to watch for are excessive tiredness, fevers or chills, pain and stiffness, swollen areas around the joint with warmth to the touch or redness, or drainage of any kind.
In most cases, a regimen of antibiotics and follow up surgeries can correct the problem. In the worst of cases, amputation, joint fusion or possible removal of the infected artificial joint is necessary.
The Journal of Hospital Infection warns surgeons to consider alternative methods of keeping the patient from hypothermia while the issue is being studied. As of now, there are no clinical trials to rely on, and the Journal encourages randomized studies be conducted.
The Journal of Joint and Bone Surgery has done some investigation and found cause for concern that bacteria could be transported to the incision.
As of today, there has been no recall of any Bair Hugger warming blankets or any other forced-air warming devices. While investigations into the safety of these devices are in early stages, all the facts will eventually come out and possibly lead to a recall. It is interesting to note that the inventor of one type of warming blanket, Dr. Scott Augustine, has expressed concern over the possible dangers involved in their use.
We have some right to expect that our medical professionals will cure us, or at least relieve our health issues. If you experience a worsening of your condition when promised help, you may have a right to legal action. Tate Law Group’s attorneys have won millions of dollars in settlements or verdicts for our clients. We know how the law applies to the medical industry and use our expertise to fight for the injured. We consider it a privilege to send a clear message to oversight agencies, hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals that they have a serious responsibility to do all they can to ensure that procedural outcomes are positive.
We strive to see that our work provides a clear message to the government and to drug manufacturers – that they have a grave responsibility to the public when approving or marketing dangerous prescription drugs.
If you or someone you know has experienced an infection related to a joint replacement surgery, contact us today.
Tate Law Group, LLC- (912) 234-3030