By Jessica Surber
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP
In the late 1980s, Dr. Scott Augustine, an anesthesiologist, invented what he thought would be a very helpful device for patients and doctors: a forced air warming blanket. The blanket is a single-use device that covers patients during and after surgery. It is hollow and filled with warm, forced air. The technology has become widely used throughout hospitals all over the country, and at least initially, was hailed as a way to help patients heal faster and bleed less during and after surgery.
Since he invented this technology, Dr. Augustine stepped away from Arizant, the company that manufactures the device. The Bair Hugger forced air warming blanket is manufactured and marketed by 3M and its subsidiary, Arizant. 3M purchased Arizant in 2010.
Dr. Augustine has publicly questioned the use of the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Blankets on patients, saying the blankets can carry bacteria and may cause big problems for patients who have had surgery involving implantable devices. Patients who have had hip or knee replacements can be particularly vulnerable, and can develop deep joint infections. Some patients have had to have revision surgery to correct problems with their knee and hip replacements. In some cases, patients have had multiple corrective surgeries. In extreme cases, amputation has been necessary to save the patient’s life.
There are many different types of Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Blankets, including those made for pediatric patients, blankets that cover only the upper or lower body and also blankets made specifically to be placed under the body during surgery. In Kentucky and many other states, patients who have suffered from post-surgery infections are filing suit against 3M and Arizant for causing the problems that led to infections, more problems, more surgery and even amputation.
As with all lawsuits, it is important to file your case quickly to ensure that your case isn’t rejected by the courts due to missing a deadline. Even if you’re not sure your problems were caused by the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Blanket, contact me, Jessica Surber, so that our firm can begin the process of looking into your potential case. There is no charge for an initial consultation. Call our firm, English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP at (270) 781-6500.