The Bair Hugger FAW Warming Blanket is a system used to maintain a normal body temperature during hip and knee replacement surgeries. The system consists of a reusable warming unit and single-use warming blankets used before, during, and after surgical procedures.
The system was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1987. Originally considered to be helpful and harmless, the Bair Hugger soon saw mounting reports of serious joint infections. Some of the infections sustained by patients became so serious, they were forced to undergo amputations to save their lives.
What Is A Bair Hugger FAW Blanket?
The “Bair Hugger Blanket” is a common name used for the Bair Hugger FAW System. This system uses forced-air warming technology to prevent and treat hypothermia before, during, and after surgical procedures. This series of devices, comprised of a warming unit, hoses and blankets, has been in use since 1987.
The heated blankets are designed to utilize pressure points on the body in order to avoid sores and burns. Bair Hugger blankets were designed to be disposable in order to prevent the spread of infection in a hospital setting. However, with all the blanket’s progressive designs, the unit has still been linked to hundreds of life-threatening infections deep within the body.
Bair Hugger FAW Blanket Infections
The Bair Hugger FAW System is thought to increase a patient’s risk in developing postoperative infections by recycling air from below the surgical table over the patient’s body. This concern was brought to light by the device’s inventor, Dr. Scott D. Augustine.
The Bair Hugger System is used in 8 out of 10 hospitals nationwide, having been involved in an estimated 180 million procedures since 1987. The sheer number of people exposed to the Bair Hugger FAW Blanket system practically ensure a large number of joint infections. Most of these bacterial infections have come after knee and hip replacement surgeries; some have been so serious they have required supplemental joint fusion procedures, follow up surgeries, and even amputation of the affected limbs.
What Is Bacterial Joint Infection?
Bacterial joint infections are serious and painful infections located in a patient’s joint. The most common form of joint infection caused by Bair Hugger Systems usually come after knee and hip replacement surgery, though the system may increase risk in any localized area it is used.
Bacteria that causes a joint infection may enter the skin through a variety of ways including the eyes, skin, ears, nose, mouth, mucous membranes, as well as in open wounds (such as those found after surgery). Sufferers of joint infections often face long treatment times that are not always successful. These almost always begin with a regimen of powerful antibiotics and painkillers. If the infection cannot be managed with drugs alone, doctors may recommend further surgeries. In the worst cases, the recommendation may include amputation.
Bacterial Joint Infection Risk Factors
A number of factors in addition to Bair Hugger FAW Blanket use, may put a patient at a higher risk in developing bacterial joint infection. Some of these factors include:
- Previous joint surgery or an artificial implant
- Rheumatoid arthritis and medications for this condition
- Regularly injecting drugs
- Psoriasis or eczema
- Thin skin or wounds on the skin
- Weakened immune system
- Taking medications that suppress immune functioning
- Another bacterial infection in the body, such as a respiratory infection
- Unprotected sex
- Gum disease or periodontal surgery
- Diabetes mellitus
- Recurrent or chronic urinary infections
Bacterial Joint Infection Symptoms And Diagnosis
In addition to being painful, bacterial joint infection, also known as septic arthritis, can be incredibly harmful if left undiagnosed or untreated. Only a licensed physician can properly diagnose the condition, so it is important to get checked out if you or a loved one has experienced two or more of the following symptoms:
- Generalized weakness
- Inability to move the limb with the infected joint
- Severe pain in the affected joint, especially with movement
- Warmth to touch of the joint
Bacterial joint infection is a serious, possibly life threatening condition. If your doctor feels you may be at risk, he or she may start the diagnosis process. This is generally done by inserting a needle into the affected joint in order to collect fluid. This fluid is then taken to a lab to check white blood cell counts and set up bacterial cultures. The doctor may also order x-rays to check for joint damage.
Dr. Scott D. Augustine’s Admission Of Guilt
Dr. Scott D. Augustine, the inventor of the Bair Hugger FAW Blanket, recently admitted that he felt his own invention was responsible for the injuries of thousands of people.
Augustine told the New York Times, “I am very proud of the old technology,” he said. “But I am also proud to spread the word that there is a problem.”
The anesthesiologist claims that the Bair Hugger Blanket causes infection by using, what is potentially, unclean air. These warnings have not influenced the device’s manufacturer 3M, who continues to promote and sell their product to any hospital that wants one. 3M saw revenues of over $30 Billion USD in 2016.