Surgical Blanket Lawsuit: Infections after Knee or Hip Replacement Surgery

The St. Louis personal injury attorneys at Schultz & Myers are currently reviewing potential cases for patients who suffered serious infections after knee, hip, or joint replacement surgery. The 3M Bair Hugger Warming Blanket is used in hospitals across Missouri and Illinois during joint replacement surgeries. Lawsuits allege that the blanket exposed patients to contaminated air from the operating room. Patients have reportedly suffered MRSA, sepsis, and other serious infections after the surgery.

Plaintiffs claim that the manufacturer 3M and Arizant Healthcare knew about the infection risk of their Bair Hugger Warming Blankets as early as 2009.

3M Bair Hugger Warming Blankets

During knee and hip replacement surgeries, the 3M Bair Hugger Warming Blanket helps maintain patients’ normal body temperatures. It has been proven to lessen bleeding and speed up recovery time.

Surgical warming blankets force warm air through a hose into a specially designed blanket. The blanket is supposed to discharge warm air over a patient’s body and release the air under the surgical table.

Eighty percent of hospitals in the United States currently use Bair Hugger warming blankets. There are more than 50,000 units in use nationwide, and more than 165 million patients have used the device since it hit the medical community in the 1990s.

warming blanket lawsuit

Defect In Surgical System

Several years ago, 3M, the manufacturer of the Bair Hugger, discovered that the warm air escaping below the surgical table may contaminate the surgical site with airborne bacteria. The escaped air can create a current; depositing bacteria from the operating floor and back into the blanket and surgical site.

If the contaminated air gets into the open wound, patients are at risk of developing an infection such as MRSA or sepsis after surgery. These conditions can be very difficult to treat when they occur deep in the joint.

Recognizing Symptoms Of Infection

Some patients are at higher risk of developing an infection after knee and hip replacement surgeries. Factors that increase the risk for infection during surgery include:

  • Diabetes
  • Immune deficiencies (HIV, lymphoma)
  • Immunosuppressive Treatments (such as chemotherapy)
  • Obesity
  • Peripheral vascular disease

Following a joint replacement surgery, look for key signs and symptoms of an infected hip or knee:

  • Warmth and redness around the wound
  • Swelling
  • Wound drainage
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, chills, night sweats
  • Increased pain or stiffness

If you suspect your joint replacement has been infected, call your medical provider right away. An early diagnosis will increase the chances of a full recovery. As the infection progresses, increasingly invasive procedures may be necessary.

Treating Joint Replacement Infections

A healthy immune system can typically fight bacteria. However, because hip or knee replacements are made of metal and plastic, it is difficult for our immune system to attack the bacteria on the implants. The bacteria that settles on the implant can create a sort of shield from the immune system, making it resistant to antibiotics.

Patients with infected joint replacements often require a second surgery to cure the infection. In severe cases, amputation, joint fusion, or removal and revision surgeries may be necessary.

How long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit after Hip Or Knee Replacement Surgery?

There are time restrictions when it comes to filing injury lawsuits and this varies from state to state. This is what’s known as the statute of limitations. If a claim is not filed against the manufacturers and healthcare providers before the state’s statute of limitations expire, the injured person can no longer file a claim.

If you have suffered infection after receiving a hip or knee replacement surgery, it is possible that your statute of limitations has expired, or will expire soon. If you suspect that you may have a surgical warming blanket lawsuit and would like to know what your statute of limitations is, call our main law office at 314.444.4444 for a free consultation.

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