The Bair Hugger forced-air warming device was invented by Dr. Scott Augustine in 1988. The Bair Hugger is used to blow warm air on patients undergoing surgery because patients who are under a general anesthesia have a hard time regulating their core temperature. If the patient’s temperature drops and a warming device like the Bair Hugger are not used, the patient is at risk for unintended hypothermia, which in turn puts them at risk for infections, a longer stay in the hospital, or even death.
Though there are many benefits to using the Bair Hugger, in recent years, the device has come under scrutiny for possibly increasing the risk of infections in the patients undergoing surgery. The biggest critic of the Bair Hugger, ironically, is Dr. Augustine himself. Dr. Augustine was the CEO, chairman, and chief technology officer for Arizant (the company who was producing the Bair Hugger, which is now owned by 3M) until 2002 when he resigned after a dispute with members of the board of directors.
Since his resignation, Dr. Augustine has spoken out against the Bair Hugger, noting that the warm air exiting the Bair Hugger is directed towards the floor and then recirculated back into the device, which poses a risk for an airborne bacterial infection. Dr. Augustine has had an independent lab conduct a study in an attempt to prove his claims, but the lab was not able to gather enough data to reach a conclusion.
There is a lot of skepticism surrounding Dr. Augustine’s choice to speak out against his invention, with many believing that his motive is to promote his newest invention, the HotDog, which serves the same purpose as the Bair Hugger, but works more like an electric blanket. 3M, who acquired Arizant in 2010 and now produces the Bair Hugger, has stated that they believe Dr. Augustine’s claims about the Bair Hugger “…stem from a personal vendetta and are baseless.” Neither 3M nor other laboratories have been able to conduct studies with results to back Dr. Augustine’s claims.
If you or someone you love has contracted an infection after a surgery involving the use of a Bair Hugger, you may have a claim. Contact the attorneys at the Merman Law Firm for compassionate, skilled representation.