Ridgeview Medical Center: a case study in Augustine mistruths about forced-air warming

The story of Ridgeview Medical Center is a classic example of the misrepresentations that form the foundation for the lawsuits against the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ system.

3M competitor Scott Augustine – the architect of the lawsuits against the Bair Hugger system – claims that Ridgeview reduced its infection rates in knee surgeries by 81% after it switched from the Bair Hugger system to his HotDog™ blanket. Augustine has told this lie to a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, broadcast it in YouTube videos, and continues to share it in professional papers, presentations at medical conferences, in and not surprisingly – in his marketing materials.

But the truth is, Augustine’s claims are not true. In internal emails and emails to the Star Tribune, Ridgeview employees repeatedly stated that the reduced infection rate could not be connected to the switch to the HotDog blanket. When the Star Tribune called Ridgeview about Augustine’s claims, BJ Buckland, director of Emergency & Surgical Services at Ridgeview, fired off a response to the hospital’s marketing director, Lisa Steinbauer

“There is no supportive data that we have or that the Surgeons would support the Hot Dog as the connection to reduced infection rates,’’ he wrote. “Our rates are lower based on the work of a number of folks and a number of different initiatives. No direct correlation to that product and I have been very clear about it with them.’’

Ridgeview’s Chief Administrative Officer also told the Star Tribune “Ridgeview Medical Center has a reputation of surgical excellence attributed to many efforts beyond the use of the Augustine Medical Hot Dog Patient Warming System. We use the Hot Dog product and are satisfied with its performance; however, there is no data to support a direct correlation to that product and our reduced infection rates.’’

Ridgeview’s data tells the same story. The hospital’s knee infection rates fell before it switched to the HotDog blanket in 2008.

The final version of the Star Tribune story is here.

You can read the Ridgeview email exchange in this court exhibit.

The hospital made it very clear: there was no data to support a direct correlation to Augustine’s product and reduced infection rates. But Scott Augustine deliberately led a newspaper reporter to believe that the hospital’s infection rate dropped as result of the HotDog blanket.

This was just one of many, many misstatements by Scott Augustine and his employees in the past decade. Don’t be fooled when he says this is about patient safety; it’s all about his business.