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Plaintiffs hoping to consolidate 14 Bair Hugger warming blanket lawsuits against 3M before Judge Donovan W. Frank in the District of Minnesota will get another chance to make their case when the next scheduled arguments are heard on December 3.

According to the plaintiffs, consolidation of the litigation would likely improve the convenience of the litigation, significantly reduce discovery costs for the defendants, and allow plaintiffs’ attorneys to coordinate their efforts and more efficiently distribute the pretrial workload, according to court documents. 3M opposes creation of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), saying the allegations are baseless.

What are Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Used for?

The Bair Hugger Warming Blanket is used during surgery to keep a patient warm during an extended surgical procedure through the use of an external heater located at floor level that allows air to travel up an enclosed connection to the blanket, delivering warm air to the patient.

Although operating rooms are typically kept cool to help surgeons, nurses, and attending technicians remain alert and reduce the chance for infection, it has been found that keeping a patient warm can have a positive effect on healing. However, it has also been alleged that forced air warming allows pathogens found on the surgical floor to reach the sterile surgical site, creating the potential for severe infection, particularly during orthopedic procedures where the infection can be introduced deep into the joint.

Despite the alleged risks, Bair Hugger warming blankets remain in wide use, with approximately 50,000 units present in hospitals across the U.S. While the blankets themselves are disposable and used only once per patient, the heater and forced air system are reusable.

Bair Hugger Lawsuit Allegations

Numerous federal lawsuits have been filed, alleging infections connected with the use of the Bair Hugger warming blankets, sometimes emerging more than a year after surgery. These infections have sometimes resulted in serious health consequences, including the need for additional surgery to clean the affected joint. In one case, the infection was so severe that amputation was necessary.

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