Lawsuit dismissed against 3M Bair Hugger device; case misstated facts

An Illinois judge has dismissed a lawsuit against 3M Company and its Bair Hugger surgical warming device.

Madison County Circuit Judge William A. Mudge on August 25 granted the request from Carol Wiltshire to dismiss her lawsuit.

She and her husband, Jeff Wiltshire, had sued 3M in November 2015, claiming an infection she contracted after knee surgery was the result of negligence on the part of 3M, St. Anthony’s Health Center in Alton, Ill., and her physician, Dr. Bruce Vest.

Wiltshire had a total knee replacement surgery on Nov. 11, 2013 at the hospital, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney John J. Hopkins. Wiltshire said she contracted an infection that necessitated multiple follow-up surgeries, and she blamed the Bair Hugger warming system for the infection.

The complaint wrongly claimed that the Bair Hugger device “was designed to circulate forced air around a patient’s surgical wound.’’ It also incorrectly claimed that the device circulated air “from the floor and other areas of contamination.’’

The Bair Hugger device is not designed to circulate forced air around a patient’s wound. It uses air forced through a warming blanket to keep patients warm; there is no air circulated around a wound. There is no evidence that the Bair Hugger system results in surgical site infections. In fact, clinical research studies indicate the use of patient warming actually reduces the risk of surgical site infection.