3M and one of its subsidiaries, Arizant Healthcare, are facing some heat over their Bair Hugger warming blanket. Lawsuits are starting to be filed, suggesting that the company knew that use of the Bair Hugger could expose surgical patients to the risk of infection. Patients who underwent surgery for hip or knee replacements are at greatest risk of infection.
The Bair Hugger
The Bair Hugger is a fairly interesting and ingenious device. When under anesthesia, the core body temperature drops a few degrees. While only a minor fluctuation, this drop in body temperature causes bleeding to increase in addition to longer recovery times. To address this, an anesthesiologist developed the Bair Hugger back in the 1980s. The device is a blanket of sorts that wraps around the patient on the operating table, blowing warm air to regulate their body temperature. As a result, a surgical patient’s core temperature can be maintained at exactly 98.6, ensuring minimal bleeding and recovery time.
The device is incredibly popular considering that it sees use in around 90% of all major surgeries. It is estimated that there are around 50,000 Bair Huggers in use around the country, meaning they are somewhat of a mainstay in the modern operating room.