Bair Hugger Investigation: Studies Investigate Surgical Forced-Air Warming Devices And Increased Infections

Bair Hugger and other forced air warming devices may be associated with increased post-surgical infections. One study which included more than 1400 patients undergoing hip or knee replacement over a 2 1/2 year period reported:

“a significant increase in deep joint infection, as demonstrated by an elevated infection odds ratio . . . was identified during a period when forced-air warming was used compared to a period when conductive fabric warming was used. Air-free warming is, therefore, recommended over forced-air warming for orthopedic procedures.” McGovern et al, Forced-air warming and ultra-clean ventilation do not mix. J. Bone Joint Surg. Br. 2011; 93:1537-44. (Citations omitted).

If you or a family member experienced a post-operative surgical site infection following a medical device or joint replacement surgery, we could help you determine whether you have a legal claim. Call us at 1.800.887.8029.

Background

Bair Hugger devices filter air that is warmed and then forced through a disposable blanket used to cover surgical patients during and after surgery. The device is used in 80 percent of U.S. hospitals. It was invented by Dr. Scott D. Augustine and is now owned by 3M.

Dr. Augustine is one of the largest advocates against the use of the device, saying it is a danger to surgical patients receiving implant devices like artificial heart valves and joints. One study which included the Bair Hugger device, found that, “Forced air warming significantly increased the number of airborne particles over the surgical site compared to the radiant warming… Bacteria require particles to transport them, and … the significant increase in the number of particles that we found in this study at the surgical site is of concern.” J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2012;94-B:254-256.

Symptoms

  • Fevers, chills and night sweats
  • Increased pain or stiffness in a previously well-functioning joint
  • Swelling
  • Warmth and redness around the wound
  • Wound drainage

How We Can Help

If you or a family member experienced a post-operative surgical site infection following a medical device or joint replacement surgery, we could help you determine whether you have a legal claim. For more information, or to speak with someone about your potential case, please call us at 1.800.887.8029. You can also fill out our free case review form. Zimmerman Reed is experienced in helping individuals injured by medical devices and we welcome your questions.