A Louisiana man has filed a product liability lawsuit against the makers of the Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket after he allegedly developed a severe infection while undergoing knee surgery with the device.
What’s the Problem?
February 16, 2016 – According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Richard Smith underwent knee surgery with a Bair Hugger blanket in Dec. 2011, and subsequently developed an infection caused by a design defect in the device that caused bacteria to be blown into his surgical wound. Smith claims he has required additional surgeries to treat his injury.
The Bair Hugger consists of a disposable blanket that is connected to a portable heater/blower by a flexible hose. The device is positioned around patients during surgery, keeping them warm by blowing hot air on to their exposed skin.
However, Smith’s lawsuit alleges that between 2002 and 2009, 3M and Arizant Healthcare Inc. redesigned the Bair Hugger to reduce the efficiency of its air filtration system, which resulted in contaminants becoming trapped in the internal airflow pathway. The pathogens are then allegedly expelled upon patients’ open surgical sites when used.
Smith alleges 3M and Arizant have known about this defect, yet continued to market and sell the Bair Hugger, even after the companies allegedly admitted the device could spread pathogens in 1997. Plaintiff also claims that the defendants willfully deceived the FDA about the efficiency of its air flow system in 2009.
As a direct result of this unlawful act, Smith claims to have suffered permanent personal injury including reduced mobility, medical expenses, economic loss, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and pain. The complaint was filed February 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, citing negligence, misrepresentation, fraud and deceit, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and violations of the Louisiana Products Liability Act.