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3M Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Linked to Infections in Surgical Patients

First approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987, 3M’s Bair Hugger warming blankets are designed to keep surgical patients warm before, during and after major operations. By helping a patient maintain their core body temperature, the blanket is supposed to lead to better surgical outcomes. Unfortunately, recent evidence indicates that this product is unsafe.

In 2010, one of the lead inventors of the product, Dr. Scott D. Augustine, began sounding the alarm, according to a report in the New York Times, publicly stating that the Bair Hugger blanket was too dangerous to use in many situations.

In 2015, the FDA put out a safety alert, notifying the public that a likely link between Bair Hugger warming blankets and certain infections had been discovered. Additionally, as has been reported in 3M’s hometown newspaper, the Star Tribune, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the company by patients who developed severe infections after they used the product.

Bair Hugger Linked to Deep Joint Infections

3M’s Bair Hugger blankets are able to produce heat because they are equipped with an internal forced-air warming system. There are small hoses within the blanket, and warm air is circulated through the system, ensuring that warm air is spread evenly across a patient’s body.

However, due to the current design of the blanket, warm air is also blown onto the surgical table itself. This airflow can interfere with the careful design of the sterilized operating room, potentially resulting in bacteria being spread, sometimes landing at the surgical site on the patient’s body.

Unfortunately, the use of these warming blankets can dramatically increase the risk of deep joint infections. Alarmingly, deep infections, particularly infections that impact a patient’s knee or hip, can be extremely difficult to treat. In some cases, the results can be catastrophic, with victims requiring invasive additional operations, and sometimes even amputation.

 Some Patients Are at Higher Risk

Based on the current evidence, any patient who is going in for a knee or hip replacement surgery should have concerns over the safety of 3M Bair Hugger Blankets. Though, notably, certain patients are at higher risk of developing complications. Hospitals must take these risks into account before conducting any major medical operations.

Patients may be at heightened risk of developing a Bair Hugger warming blanket-related infection if they:

  • Have a compromised immune system.
  • Have diabetes or are obese.
  • Have poor blood circulation.

There is evidence to suggest that 3M was long aware of the risks posed by this product, yet failed to take any action to protect patients. If you or a loved one has developed an infection or any other medical complication after using a 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket during surgery, you should seek immediate legal assistance. You may be eligible to bring a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Contact Grimes Teich Anderson Today 

Our attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP may be able to help you with your defective medical device claims. To request your free case evaluation, please call us or fill out our short online contact form today. We represent victims throughout Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including in Asheville, Waynesville, Franklin, Greenville, and Spartanburg.


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