Widely Used Medical Device May Increase Risk of Severe Joint Infections after Hip and Knee Replacements
The Bair Hugger™ FAW (forced air warming) surgical device may be to blame for major joint infections after hip and knee replacement surgeries. The device, also known as a warming blanket, is used during surgery to help regulate a patient’s body temperature.
In theory, keeping a patient warm during surgery will result in less bleeding and faster recovery, among other benefits. However, the device can be dangerous for patients receiving implants such as hip and knee joints. During these procedures, warm air produced by the device may collect under the surgical drape, move to the floor, and lift bacteria off the ground and into the open surgical wound, resulting in deep joint infections.
Deep Joint Infections vs. Soft Tissue Infections
Soft tissue infections are a common side effect of many surgeries and can usually be cured by taking antibiotics, or in some cases, may clear up on their own. Deep joint infections are potentially catastrophic and may lead to hospitalization, multiple revision surgeries, amputations, and even death.
Doctor that Invented the Product Warns of Potential Risks
In 2010, the New York Times (NYT) reported that Dr. Scott D. Augustine, the inventor of the Bair Hugger warming system, warned that the product is a danger to surgical patients receiving implant devices like artificial heart valves and joints, stating that forced air can spread bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.
According to the article, Dr. Augustine spoke out against the device at professional medical meetings and has supported studies showing that the device may “pose a bacterial threat”.