Bair Hugger Lawsuit Multidistrict Litigation Judge Issues Bellwether Trial Order
What do you need to know about the Bair Hugger lawsuit? A Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) against 3M and Arizant Healthcare, alleging the manufacturers’ Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets were the cause of deadly post-surgical infections, has progressed to the bellwether pretrial stage. The more than 800 cases were recently consolidated in Minnesota under the purview of the Honorable Joan N. Ericksen. Bellwether case selection will begin on December 23, 2016, with final case selection to be completed on or before March 8, 2017.
The Bair Hugger forced air blankets are used to keep patients warm during surgery. The Master Complaint adopted by the Plaintiffs in the pending MDL alleges that “scientific studies have shown that as the warmed air rises against the downward airflow in the operating room, it deposits bacteria from the non-sterile portions of the operating theater to the surgical site.” The Master Complaint further alleges that “scientific studies have also shown that the inadequate air filtration system of the Bair Hugger allows pathogenic-carrying cells, including but not limited to isolates of S aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci (“CoNS”), and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”), to penetrate the intake filter of the device and colonize inside the device.” Accordingly, it is alleged that without an adequate filtration system at the distal hose outlet, the device releases contaminants into the operating theater and directly onto the surgical site itself. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants have known, for over two decades, that “the Bair Hugger emits significant levels of internally generated airborne contaminants into the operating theater and that the exhaust generated thereby creates convective airflow patterns that disrupt the unidirectional airflow of the operating theater, dramatically increasing the risk of infection for patients undergoing lengthy surgeries, especially hip and knee replacement surgeries.”