August 22, 2016 — 3M is facing hundreds of lawsuits from people who developed infections after undergoing joint surgery involving the Bair Hugger warming device.
As of August 15, there were 547 lawsuits pending in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2666) in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota, where they are overseen by Judge Joan N. Ericksen.
The number of lawsuits has grown steadily since the MDL was established in December 2015. According to one complaint:
“This escaped air creates air flow currents that flow against the downward air flow of the operating room. As this warmed air rises, it deposits bacteria from the floor of the surgical room into the surgical site.”
They also say the internal airflow paths of the blower can become contaminated with bacteria. Many of the patients developed deep joint infections after a knee or hip replacement. These infections are hard to treat and often require removal of the artificial joint.
Earlier this year, 3M published a research compendium including data on more than 200 studies of forced-air warming since 1987, when the device was approved. A spokeswoman says the data “reaffirms the safety and effectiveness of this system.”
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