As lawsuits over its Bair Hugger forced air warmer blanket continue to mount, the 3M Company is attempting to answer one of the most prominent critics of the widely-used surgical warming system. Ironically, that critic happens to be the same doctor who invented the device some 30 years ago.
Dr. Scott Augustine has been on a crusade of sorts, alleging that the surgical warming system he invented increases the risk that patients receiving hip and knee replacements will develop serious post-op infections at the site of their implant.
“With regard to orthopedic infections, a scare is what’s needed. This product should never be on another orthopedic patient,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015.
The 3M Company and its Arizant Healthcare, Inc. subsidiary strongly dispute his allegations. In a February 16th statement,3M claimed that Dr. Augustine’s company – Augustine Temperature Management – was disseminating rumors of a “silent” Bair Hugger recall in order to incite “unease” about the Bair Hugger system.
“The company’s founder, Scott Augustine, has pursued a deliberate business strategy of disparaging and instigating litigation against the 3M Bair Hugger system in an attempt to promote his own competing product,” 3M asserted. “He has a history of making false and misleading claims and has been warned by the FDA to stop.”
Since being brought to market in 1987, the Bair Hugger forced air warmer system has been adopted by more than 80% of the nation’s hospitals to prevent hypothermia in patients undergoing surgery. The apparatus consists of a portable heater that draws ambient air. Once heated, the air is forced though a flexible plastic hose and into a disposable, inflatable blanket that has been draped over the patient.
3M and Arizant are now named in more than 1,300 Bair Hugger lawsuits, all of which were filed on behalf of patients who allegedly developed hip and knee replacement infections similar to those described by Dr. Augustine. They echo his allegations that the warming system suffers from a design defect that allows potentially contaminated air from the operating room floor to come into contact with the sterile surgical site, Plaintiffs further allege that 3M and Arizant have been aware of this issue for years, but have failed to implement appropriate design changes or warn the medical community about this issue.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP represents plaintiffs in Bair Hugger infection lawsuits, and our attorneys continue to provide free, no-obligation case reviews to individuals interested in joining this growing litigation. To learn more about filing a claim, please call (888) 498-0029.