What is Bair Hugger Therapy?
Bair Hugger Therapy is the use of temperature management systems that use forced-air warming to prevent and treat hypothermia in patients during surgery. Dr. Scott D. Augustine invented Bair Hugger surgical equipment – which includes blankets, warming units and accessories.
Hospitals used Bair Hugger Therapy on more than 180 million patients since it was introduced in 1988, and more than 80 percent of hospitals in the U.S. use the therapy today. In 2010, 3M paid about $800 million to buy Arizant, the maker of Bair Hugger.
Studies on Bair Hugger and infection risk
Despite its popularity, some doctors are concerned about using Bair Hugger therapy during orthopedic surgery or surgeries involving implants, because those surgeries often carry a high risk of contamination. Multiple studies found forced-air warming carried a higher risk for contaminating surgical sites than other warming methods.
Risks posed by the Bair Hugger warming blanket are at the center of increasing litigation against 3M Co. Nearly 60 orthopedic patients claim that the forced air warming device, frequently used during surgery to prevent anesthesia-induced hypothermia, caused incapacitating deep-joint infections.
Dr. Scott D. Augustine, a Minnesota anesthesiologist who invented Bair Hugger warming units and equipment used in thousands of U.S. hospitals, is also speaking out against the devices. Augustine cites research that shows the device’s convection currents stir up bacteria and contaminants from the hospital floor, which can then be embedded into the surface of an artificial hip or knee implant at the time of surgery.
New York Times:
“I am very proud of the old technology, but I am also proud to spread the word that there is a problem.” Dr. Scott D. Augustine.
Many of the lawsuits are by patients who underwent hip or knee replacement surgery and were left with serious deep joint infections.
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