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BAIR HUGGER LAWSUIT - SURGICAL INFECTIONS

The Claim:

A civil action is different from a criminal proceeding. Traditionally, a civil action starts with a complaint. The complaint is a claim made by the party filing suit. Most complaints involve some sort of negligence on the other party’s behalf. In the case regarding Bair Hugger, there is a claim of negligence on the manufacturer’s behalf. Bair Hugger claims that the manufacturer was aware of potential risks associated with the use of their product, the warming blanket machines, and joint infections following hip and knee replacement surgeries. The claim, states that the manufacturer, even knowing of the increased risks, did not take the machine back to the blue print stage, redesigning it to make it a safer product. The claim also states, that the manufacturer not only knew of the increased risks, they also failed to warn the healthcare providers of the potential for infection (Thomson Reuters, 2017). Furthermore, to heighten the level of negligence, the claim states that the manufacturer discredited any research that uncovered the link between increased risk of infection and their product; resulting in an attempt for a large scale cover up.

What is the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket, and Why is it Used?

During surgery, doctors seek to control variables to expedite a safer, more effective surgical procedure. The operating room, and hospitals in general are kept in very cool temperatures, and that is because cooler temperatures reduce the production and spread of bacteria. For patient and surgical benefits, in an operating room, warming blankets, and various fluid warming methods are used to control a patient’s body temperature during the surgical procedure. Maintaining a normal body temperature, or as close to normal as possible, allows a patient to provide a more stable condition to pave the way for doctors to perform surgery at its best (3M, 2017).

 

The warming blanket is just one method used to warm patients’ body temperatures, before, during, and post-operative situations. The warming blanket is attached to a tube that runs warm air from a machine, keeping the patient’s body temperature stable. Warming technology is a highly beneficial method and helps maintain stability for surgical and clinical practices. From speeding up recovery time, to the reduction of bleeding, this technology can provide a list of benefits for both patients and facilities (3M, 2017).

 

 

How Does This Pose a Risk in Association with Patients?

As you know, germs and bacteria thrive in warm environments. While the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket is assisting in keeping the patient’s body temperature stable, it is releasing the warm air over a patient’s body. At the same time, the warming blanket can be putting warm air under the surgical table, thus creating a warm environment for germs and bacteria to thrive, right under the operating table. This creates potential for the bacteria to become airborne, spreading throughout the room. When a patient has an open surgical site, these airborne microbes can get into the opening. For patients having hip or knee replacements, their joints are fully exposed. The potential for sepsis and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or also known as MRSA, are serious infections, and the potential for infections are increased. Infections like this can occur deep within a patient’s joints; when this type of infection occurs, it is very difficult to be diagnosed.

 

 

 

What is the Treatment for These Types of Infection?

Patients may undergo a series of surgeries congruently used with a combination of antibiotic therapies. If the infection is severe, the potential for more dramatic surgeries is high. A list of these surgeries would be, but not limited to:

 

  • Amputation
  • Removal of the Replacement (Hip or Knee)
  • Joint Fusion
  • 2 Stage Revision Surgery
  • Patients unable to undergo a second surgery will most likely be treated with long-term antibiotic therapy.

 

High Risk Factors

Patients that are at higher risk for developing post-operative infections related to the use of Bair Hugger Warming Blankets possess one or more of the following:

  • Immune Deficiencies such as
    • HIV
    • Lymphoma
    • XLA, CVID, SCID
  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation to the hands and feet)
  • Obesity
  • Immunosuppressive Treatments such as
    • Chemotherapy
    • Corticosteroids

 

 

 

 

What Are Some Signs of Infection?

  • Fever- Fever is usually present when there is an infection.
  • Fatigue- Infection drains your energy
  • Increased Pain or Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Drainage- While some drainage can be normal from the wound, be sure to have it looked at. Drainage from the site could indicate infection.
  • Redness- If there is redness and warmth around the site of the surgery, there could be infection below the surface.
  • Chills and Night Sweats- This is usually a clear indication of fever and infection.

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above, and has recently had hip or knee replacement surgery, early diagnosis of infection is essential to seek proper treatment, increasing the potential for a full recovery. Prolonged infection can lead to amputation. O’Mara Law Group can help you if you or a loved one have been effected. It is essential to your well-being to contact a healthcare provider immediately to start the treatment process and assess the level of damage that has occurred.

O'Mara Law Group

O’Mara Law Group is the private law practice of Mark O’Mara. Mark O’Mara has been practicing law in Central Florida since 1983. He served as a prosecutor before becoming a defense attorney. Mark O’Mara is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law and Marital and Family Law. After gaining national recognition for leading the defense in the Zimmerman case, Mark O’Mara became a legal analyst for CNN and founder of Justice Outreach.  Have a skilled Orlando defense attorney on your side is crucial in an Orlando criminal court system.

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O'Mara Law Group

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Orlando, FL  32804

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