Hip and Knee Replacement Device Causing Deadly Infections

Five years ago, the inventor of a popular surgical device requested that hospitals stop using his device because he believed it posed a danger to patients. The device, a heated blanket that keeps patients warm during implant surgeries, is now linked to severe joint infections. Our teams of hip and knee replacement lawyers are now accepting cases of infection and revision surgery from this device.

In the 1990s, Dr. Scott Augustine helped pioneer a system that kept patients warm during surgeries to implant devices like artificial joints and heart valves. Keeping patients warm purportedly enables a faster recovery and promotes less bleeding during the procedure. Dr. Augustine invented the Bair Hugger warming system, which works like a forced-air heater, carrying the warmed air through a hose and in to a special blanket which lies over a patient.

The Bair Hugger’s forced air warming system changed the way implant surgeries were performed and made Dr. Augustine a fortune. Despite his repeated warnings, Bair Huggers are still used in 90% of today’s hip and knee joint replacement surgeries.

Dr. Augustine warned that the forced air circulating through the Bair Hugger blanket can spread bacteria and cause serious, even fatal infections. The heat generated by the Bair Hugger redirects air circulation in the rooms surgeries are performed; when the air recirculates, air contaminants (bacteria) can come in contact with patients.

In April 2009, Dr. Augustine wrote a letter to the company that manufactured his invention (now 3M), accusing it of concealing the Bair Hugger’s problems. He stated the company had two choices: to wait for the Bair Hugger to be mandatorily recalled for catastrophic injuries, or voluntarily recall the devices and “live to fight another day.”

Other Concerns for Joint Replacement Patients

We require strong, flexible joints for daily activity and movements from standing up to nodding your head. Like every other bodily system, joints age naturally. Factors that can hasten the aging process include: excess body weight, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of consistent exercise, poor nutrition, and un- or improperly- treated injuries.

When the cartilage in our joints erodes patients experience pain, dysfunction and damage. Many people require joint replacement surgery if the joint is severely diseased. During these procedures, surgeons cut away damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with artificial joints made of metals, plastics or ceramics.

There are a wide variety of joint replacement designs for patients and doctors to choose from, depending on the patient’s weight, activity level, age, and general health. In the early 2000s, metal-on-metal (MoM) hip implants were approved for sale in the U.S., and marketed as a longer-lasting design option for young, active patients.

Unfortunately, after just a few years on market, these MoM hip devices started failing at alarmingly high rates. In 2010, the first MoM hip device was recalled due to unusually high premature failure rates. There were several more recalls in the following years.

In 2011, the FDA requested device manufacturers to conduct studies on these implants; two years later the FDA issued a safety warning, stating metal-on-metal hip implants posed greater risks than other hip implants. By 2013 the largest MoM manufacturer, DePuy, announced it was stopping all sales of MoM hip replacements. Tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against MoM hip manufacturers.

Regardless of what type of joint replacement you received, any patient who underwent an orthopedic surgery and suffered a severe infection may be eligible for compensation through a lawsuit against the Bair Hugger’s manufacturer, 3M. Several lawsuits have already been filed, claiming the Bair Hugger warming caused deep joint infections, which required repeated surgeries to correct.

The lawsuits accuse 3M of knowing about the dangers of this device for years and failing to take any measures to address them. One of the plaintiffs underwent 15 additional surgeries, suffered severe pain and disability, and now must live with one leg several inches shorter than the other.

Our metal-on-metal hip lawyers are currently investigating cases of severe infection from joint surgeries. If you or someone you love had a joint replacement surgery and suffered a deep joint infection, contact our firm immediately for a free case review. You do not have to know whether or not the Bair Hugger device was used in your surgery. It is our job to investigate your potential claim to determine whether you are eligible for compensation. Our investigations and case reviews are always free and available to clients nationwide.

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