Keeping Warm Keeps You Alive: But Can it Also Lead to Infection Following Surgery?

David Hodges
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David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.
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Thanks to modern day advances in medicine, patients who suffer from failing knees or hips may now have the option of having a hip or Are you at risk for infection after having knee or hip replacement surgery?knee replacement. Doing so requires the patient to undergo surgery. While there are significant benefits to a patient’s overall quality of life as a result of surgery in many cases, there are also risks that are present with such an involved procedure. One such risk during hip or knee replacement is the risk of a deep joint infection. These infections are sometimes caused by the use of forced-air warming systems. A forced-air warming system is designed to regulate a patient’s body temperature during the surgery.

An Overview of Patient Warming

In order to keep patients safe during a surgery involving a knee, hip, or other joint replacement, it is crucial that the patient’s core body temperature is maintained at as close to a normal level as possible. If a patient loses even the slightest amount of body temperature, also known as mild hypothermia, he or she faces significant risks. These risks may include:

  • Blood loss
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Delayed recovery time
  • Delayed healing of the wounds
  • Increased infections in the surgical site

To prevent these complications and keep a patient’s body temperature at a safe level, surgeons use patient warming devices. One such device is a forced-air warming system such as the 3M Bair Hugger patient warming system. While it is important to keep a patient warm during surgery, the use of the Bair Hugger warming system may also increase the risk of infection.

How the Bair Hugger Forced-Air Warming System Increases the Risk of Infection

Why is the Bair Hugger forced air warming system potentially dangerous to patients undergoing surgery to replace a knee, hip, or other joint? The following is an overview:

  • Forced-air warming systems can disturb the contaminated air that lies near the floor of all operating rooms.
  • As with most floors, the floors of an operating room contain bacteria and contaminants, such as dead skin cells.
  • When the bacteria or contaminants come into contact with the patient, a deep joint infection may result.

If a patient suffers a deep joint infection caused by the use of a forced-air warming system during surgery, various forms of treatment may be required. The patient may need to be hospitalized and could face multiple surgeries to try and repair the damage. The patient may also need to take antibiotics. In some cases, the implant device may need to be removed.

Clearly, suffering a deep joint infection caused by a Bair Hugger forced-air warming system can create significant harm for a patient and his or her family. The patient may incur significant expenses due to the need for medical treatment and rehabilitation to address the infection. The patient may also be unable to return to work for a substantial period of time. Fortunately, victims may be entitled to compensation from the device’s manufacturer. To learn more about protecting your legal rights after a hip or knee replacement surgery, we encourage you to reach out today at 855-947-0707.


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