In a critical victory for victims of Bair Hugger warming blanket infections, a Minnesota trial judge presiding ruled this week that the claims will continue against 3M over its Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket. Thousands of hip and knee joint infection lawsuits allege surgery patients treated with the Bair Hugger warming blanket may have been exposed to contaminated air from the operating room floor.
The Bair Hugger system allows warm air to circulate contaminated particles from the floor and creates a current that can deposit the bacteria into the surgical site, leading to deep joint infections in hip and knee replacement patients.
Describing the claims, Judge Joan Erickson wrote:
Plaintiffs allege theories about how the Bair Hugger’s forced-air warming can cause deep-joint infection. After warming the patient, the Bair Hugger’s forced air flows into the operating room at large. Because this effluent forced air is warmer than the air-conditioned operating-room air, it convects. This convection stirs the operating-room air, allegedly lifting squames (skin flakes shed from people) and preventing them from safely settling away from the surgical wound. The parties agree that squames can carry skin bacteria, some of which can cause deep-joint infection. Plaintiffs also have a theory about bacteria that reside within the Bair Hugger’s central unit or hose. These bacteria allegedly get out riding the forced air, thereby increasing the bacterial threat within the operating-room air.
3M asked the trial court to strike the plaintiffs’ experts dismiss the case, claiming there was no evidence that the Bair Hugger led to infections. The trial court rejected 3M’s arguments and will allow the claims to proceed to trial. Judge Erickson found the Plaintiffs’ experts utilized scientifically valid methodology and their findings were relevant and reliable and could be heard by the jury at trial.
The first bellwether trial is set to begin on February 8, 2018, with additional trials set to follow throughout the year.
© Copyright 2017 Brett A. Emison
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