US revives lawsuits that allege warming device caused infections in orthopedic surgery

Spinal Tech

An appellate court on Aug. 16 reversed a lower court's decision that dismissed almost 6,000 lawsuits against 3M over a surgical warming device, according to the Star Tribune.

The lawsuits alleged that the company's Bair Hugger patient-warming device caused deep-joint infections in orthopedic surgeries.

The lower court's decision in July 2019 ruled that the plaintiffs lacked expert evidence to show that their infection claims were supported by generally accepted science. In their appeal, plaintiffs argued that the court should not have excluded their medical experts.

A three-judge panel reversed the summary judgment in favor of 3M and overturned the decision to exclude the plaintiffs' medical experts, the Star Tribune reported.

Bair Hugger is designed to prevent hypothermia during surgery and to help patients maintain a normal temperature, which is believed to speed recovery times and prevent infections, according to the report. Plaintiffs argue that the device promotes infections, because it features a system that sucks in ambient air from the OR, warms it, and then blows it into a disposable inflatable blanket that rests on the patient.

3M maintains that Bair Hugger is safe and that there is no evidence that it causes infections. The company said it will "continue to vigorously defend itself" and is "exploring all next steps and options to challenge the opinion," according to the report.

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