A Michigan Bair Hugger lawsuit may be an option for patients who experienced severe infection following joint replacement surgery. Proper regulation of body temperature can be difficult for patients under general anesthesia. Accordingly, use of warming blankets is common during some surgical procedures to ensure patients maintain a healthy body temperature. While warming devices are purported to be safe by manufacturers, some patients have experienced severe complications, including life-threatening infections, after use of these devices. Affected patients may be eligible to seek compensation by filing a Bair Hugger lawsuit.
For more information, contact Attorney Group for Michigan today. Our consultations are free, confidential and without any obligation on your part. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
What Is Perioperative Hypothermia?
Operating rooms are typically kept below a temperature of 73.4°F to ensure surgeons do not become overheated during an operation. Because performing surgical procedures can be rather stressful, surgeons and other medical staff can easily become overwhelmed by the increased temperature. In some cases this can impact patient safety, particularly if a surgeon begins sweating profusely and this perspiration makes its way into an open surgical site.
While decreased temperatures benefit medical staff, they can pose risks to patients undergoing surgery. Because anesthetized patients are unable to regulate their body temperatures, they are far more susceptible to the occurrence of perioperative hypothermia. As stated by the National Institutes of Health, even a slight degree of hypothermia can lead to death. Complications related to perioperative hypothermia include a heightened bleeding risk, prolonged effects of any medications administered during a procedure and reduced blood flow to the heart in patients afflicted with heart disease.
What Are Warming Blankets?
To combat the ill-effects of hypothermia, many surgeons use warming blankets on patients to increase body temperature during operations. 3M, a manufacturer of many different kinds of patient warming devices, describes their products as a method of reducing the impact of hypothermia in the operating room to ensure patients maintain a healthy core temperature during surgery.
The company’s Bair Hugger system makes use of a blanket and warming apparatus to keep a normal core temperature. The temperature management unit provides heat via a forced air system, which distributes warmed air to the patient via a series of tubes. The intended purpose of these warming units is to allow medical staff to reduce the occurrence of hypothermia without altering the environment within the operating room.
Risks Associated With Warming Blankets
While warming blankets are claimed to be safe for patient use, in many instances they can pose a significant risk of infection. The New York Times reports on these potential risks, which have recently been cited in cases where patients were exposed to deadly bacteria when undergoing open-heart surgery.
In this instance, the device in question made use of water to heat a patient during surgery, and in some cases this water can become contaminated with nontuberculous mycobacteria. Even though bacteria are not directly introduced to a patient, it can make its way through machine’s air vents, thereby being introduced to the operating room.
While these bacteria do not normally pose a health risk, in those patients with a diminished immune system they can cause a range of negative effects, including weight loss, fever and death in severe cases. Some cite improper cleaning of the device as a means of spreading bacteria, which can cause bacteria to be dispersed to patients during usage of the device.
Bair Hugger Lawsuits
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have received numerous reports of the dangers of warming devices. From 2010 to 2015, the FDA was in receipt of 32 reports related to infections suffered by patients while using these devices. While some reports related to the performance of heart surgeries, infections have occurred during many other types of procedures.
Accordingly, some patients have chosen to file lawsuits in response to their infections. One patient particular suffered from an extensive deep tissue infection resulting from use of a warming blanket during knee surgery. This patient claims that the manufacturer was well-aware of the risk of its device, but failed to offer the appropriate warnings to the health care community.
How a Michigan Bair Hugger Lawsuit Can Help
Medical device makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their devices, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a device maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
Patients who are injured by a Bair Hugger warming blanket may be entitled to compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- The permanency of the injury
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Loss of income or ability to work
If a patient dies from complications related to a defective Bair Hugger warming blanket, family members may be entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one, including:
- Conscious pain and suffering of a loved one prior to death
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish from the loss of a loved one
- Funeral expenses
Patients who have suffered severe complications from a Bair Hugger warming blanket, as well as the families of those who have died as a result of complications with the device, are encouraged to seek the advice of a Michigan Bair Hugger lawsuit attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.
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