A lawsuit has been filed against the 3M Company and other defendants by a Texas woman who claims she suffered a severe infection which ultimately required the amputation of her leg after undergoing knee replacement surgery in which a Bair Hugger warming blanket was used.
Texan Says Knee Replacement Infection led to Amputation
According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Ruth Childers underwent knee replacement surgery in December 2013, after which she suffered a drug-resistant infection in the joint that required amputation above the knee. The primary defendant in the case is 3M, which bought out Arizant Healthcare Inc., the company that originally manufactured the Bair Hugger, in 2010. Secondary defendants includes Arizant, the doctor who is alleged to have performed the knee implant surgery, and the medical center where the procedure took place.
Childers is seeking over $1 million in compensation for her pain and suffering. The complaint, Ruth E. Childers v. 3M Company et al, was filed December 9 in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, under case number 2015-73957.
Bair Hugger Infections
The Bair Hugger is a medical device used to keep patients warm during surgery. A patient is draped with a warming blanket, which is attached through a plastic hose to a unit on the floor that produces heat and circulates warm air up from the floor, through the hose into the warming blanket. According to 3M, the Bair Hugger decreases the risk of cardiovascular incidents resulting from the cold, and speeds post-operative healing.
The problem is that the sterile envelope is typically maintained between the ceiling and patient in the operating room. Bacteria and other pathogens that may accumulate on the floor are not normally considered a threat to the patient, as they are below and away from the surgical site.
However, lawsuits allege that use of a fan unit on the floor, combined with the heating unit, can cause the transfer of pathogens from the floor up through the hose to the surgical site, compromising the sterile environment.