After Ruling, Lawsuits Over 3M Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Move Forward

Thousands of consumers who have filed lawsuits against 3M for their Bair Hugger warming blankets received a favorable ruling this week, as the trial court rejected 3M’s arguments to prevent the claims from going to trial.  The first bellwether trial is set for February 8, 2018, with additional trials following throughout the year.   

 Thousands of warming blanket infection lawsuits can now proceed, after a critical victory this week.

Thousands of warming blanket infection lawsuits can now proceed, after a critical victory this week.

This is a significant step for victims of Bair Hugger warming blanket infections.  These lawsuits are over hip and knee joint infections caused by use of the warming blankets after surgery.  Surgery patients treated using the Bair Hugger warming blanket may be exposed to contaminated air from the operating room floor.  Operating rooms are supposed to be sterile environments, thus preventing infection during surgery.  But the Bair Hugger system allows warm air to circulate contaminated particles from the floor and creates a convection 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:

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 and dismiss the case, claiming there was no evidence that the Bair Hugger led to infections.  Judge Erickson found the Plaintiffs’ experts used valid methods and their findings were relevant; now, claims will continue against 3M over its Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket.

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Langdon & Emison continues to review Bair Hugger joint infection cases.  There is never a charge for reviewing your case.