July 29, 2015 — 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare have been hit with a lawsuit from a person who developed an antibiotic-resistant infection after hip surgery involving the Bair Hugger, a forced-air surgical warming blanket.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on July 25 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Case No. 0:15-cv-03143).
The plaintiff, Tawas Reed, is a resident of Fort Worth, Texas who underwent hip replacement surgery in June 2014. Bacteria contaminated an open surgical wound, resulting in a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.
Reed needed two additional surgeries to remove the implant and clean the infected area, but continues to suffer from limited mobility.
The Bair Hugger consists of a portable heater/blower connected by a flexible hose to a disposable blanket that is draped over a patient during surgery. It warms the patient by blowing warm air directly on the patient’s skin. According to the lawsuit:
“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.”
The lawsuit also claims that the air-blowers themselves can become contaminated with bacteria. In 2010, the inventor of the Bair Hugger told the New York Times that it can
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