Hip and knee replacement infection lawsuits involving the 3M Company’s Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket continued to grow at a steady pace over the past month. According a new docket report from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), 140 new claims were either filed in or transferred to the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, over the past month, bringing the total number of filings to 1,343 cases.
Just 55 Bair Hugger lawsuits were transferred to the District of Minnesota when the JPML created the centralized proceeding in December 2015. Plaintiffs who had petitioned the Panel for centralization of the federal docket had predicted a large litigation, and this latest figure would appear to vindicate their assertions.
All of the claims pending in the Bair Hugger litigation were filed on behalf of plaintiffs who blame the forced air warmer for deep joint infections they developed in the wake of hip and knee replacement surgery. The device, which was brought to market by Arizant Healthcare, Inc. in 1987, is considered the gold-standard for patient warming, and is used by more than 80% of the nation’s hospitals to prevent hypothermia during surgery. The Bair Hugger system is made up of a portable heater designed to draw in and warm ambient air. That air is then forced into an inflatable blanket that has been draped over the patient undergoing surgery in order to prevent hypothermia.
Patient warming during surgery is believed to lessen bleeding and promote healing. However, plaintiffs pursuing Bair Hugger lawsuits claim that the system suffers from a design defect that alters the flow of air in the operating room, thus allowing particulates from the surgical floor to come into contact with the patient’s open wound. Any bacteria present in those particulates can then contaminate the implant, resulting in a deep joint infection post-surgery.
3M acknowledged the Bair Hugger litigation in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing also indicated that the company was named a defendant in a putative class action involving the forced air warming system that is currently pending in Canada’s Ontario Superior Court.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP has been retained by numerous Bair Hugger plaintiffs. If you are interested in filing a similar lawsuit for a deep joint infection that followed hip or knee replacement surgery, please call (888) 498-0029 to get in touch with an attorney today.