A multidistrict litigation (MDL) is underway in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota consolidating federal lawsuits over the Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket. Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that the device, a forced-air warming system, increases the risk of deep joint infections in patients undergoing surgery. The Bair Hugger is used to maintain a patient’s body temperature during an operation.
The court has approved a Plaintiff Fact Sheet in the MDL, according to a Pretrial Order dated September 27th. This fact sheet serves to streamline discovery in the MDL, making proceedings more efficient. It will be used by all claimants with cases pending. Future claimants in the MDL will also use this fact sheet. Plaintiffs who have a case pending must serve a completed Fact Sheet on the Defendants within 90 days of the Order, the document states.
An MDL contains a number of lawsuits with similar allegations. These lawsuits are transferred to one court before one judge in order to make proceedings more efficient. In the Bair Hugger MDL, plaintiffs similarly allege that the surgical warming blanket caused a serious infection and that device makers failed to warn patients and doctors about this risk.
The Bair Hugger is used to keep patients warm while they are under anesthesia. It was introduced by Arizant Healthcare, now a subsidiary of 3M, in 1987. The device consists of a heater that blows warm air into an inflatable blanket through a plastic hose.
Plaintiffs in the Bair Hugger litigation allege that the forced-air design picks up contaminants from the operating room floor and deposits them into the surgical site. The MDL contains nearly 700 such lawsuits so far; most plaintiffs had undergone hip or knee replacement surgeries.