August 3, 2015 — 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare Inc. have been hit with a federal lawsuit in Minnesota from a man who blames the Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket caused his hip replacement infection.
The man, William Lichlyter, had hip replacement surgery in August 2012 and developed an infection. He required three more surgeries to remove the hip implant, clean the infected an dead tissue in his leg, and remove the majority of his thigh muscle. He still has a limited ability to walk.
He blames his infection on the Bair Hugger, a device that consists of a portable heater/blower connected by a flexible hose to a disposable blanket. The system warms patients during surgery by blowing hot air on their skin. According to the lawsuit (PDF), the Bair Hugger can also deposit bacteria into a surgical site:
“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.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the internal airflow paths of the Bair Hugger can become contaminated with bacteria. In 2010, the Bair Hugger, Dr. Scott Augustine, warned against using it. He told the New York Times that it can
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