In a critical victory for victims of Bair Hugger warming blanket infections, the trial judge presiding over thousands of hip and knee joint infection lawsuits ruled this week that the claims will continue against 3M over its Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket.
Surgery patients treated using the Bair Hugger warming blanket may be exposed to contaminated air from the operating room floor. It is critical that operating rooms are sterile environment to prevent infection during surgery. Doctors, nurses and others on the surgery team scrub in, scalpels and other tools are disinfected and sterilized. The operating room nearly germ-free… except for the floor.
The Bair Hugger system allows warm air to circulate contaminated particles from the floor and creates a current that can deposit the bacteria into the surgical site, leading to deep joint infections in hip and knee replacement patients.
Describing the claims, Judge Joan Erickson wrote:
Plaintiffs allege theories about how the Bair Hugger’s forced-air warming can cause deep-joint infection. After warming the patient, the Bair Hugger’s forced air flows into the operating room at large. Because this effluent forced air is warmer than the air-conditioned operating-room air, it convects. This convection stirs the operating-room air, allegedly lifting squames (skin flakes shed from people) and preventing them from safely settling away from the surgical wound. The parties agree that squames can carry skin bacteria, some of which can cause deep-joint infection. Plaintiffs also have a theory about bacteria that reside within the Bair Hugger’s central unit or hose. These bacteria allegedly get out riding the forced air, thereby increasing the bacterial threat within the operating-room air.
3M asked the trial court to strike the plaintiffs’ experts dismiss the case, claiming there was no evidence that the Bair Hugger led to infections. The trial court rejected 3M’s arguments and will allow the claims to proceed to trial. Judge Erickson found the Plaintiffs’ experts utilized scientifically valid methodology and their findings were relevant and reliable and could be heard by the jury at trial.
The first bellwether trial is set to begin on February 8, 2018, with additional trials set to follow throughout the year.
© Copyright 2017 Brett A. Emison
Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.