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PreTrial Order Issued In Bair Hugger Warming Blanket MDL

Oct 19, 2016

There are nearly 700 lawsuits in the Bair Hugger forced air warmer system multidistrict litigation (MDL) that has been organized in the United States District Court, District of Minnesota. Lawsuit allegations include that the Bair Hugger leads to severe infections.

The court just approved use of a "Plaintiff Fact Sheet" in its pretrial Order. Current plaintiffs must complete the Fact Sheet within 90 days. Future plaintiffs and plaintiffs whose lawsuits are transferred into this MDL will must complete the Fact Sheet within 90 days following either filing of their complaint or short-form complaint, or their completed transfer, whichever is later.

An MDL allows the lawsuits associated with a particular product-in this case, the Bair Hugger system-to-be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation. Coordination of an MDL helps to avoid duplicative discovebry and inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses, and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated in an MDL, each retains its own identity. If the MDL process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial. Initial cases are known as so-called "bellwether trials," and enable involved parties to better understand and predict how future cases will turn out and if their cases should be negotiated for an out-of-court settlement. The Plaintiff Fact Sheet is used to obtain information about specific plaintiff cases and is intended to streamline the discovery process.

Plaintiffs similarly allege that the Bair Hugger system has led to severe deep joint infections. This serious side effect has allegedly led to the need for additional surgeries and amputations, among other complications.

The Bair Hugger blankets are meant to maintain temperature during hip or knee replacement surgeries and work by pushing warm air through a hose into a blanket that is draped over a patient who is under anesthesia. The Bair Hugger warming blanket may allegedly pick up bacteria-contaminated air, blowing harmful pathogens directly into a sterile surgical site, according to a prior The New York Times report.

The Bair Hugger system was invented by Dr. Scott Augustine, an anesthesiologist. The system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1988. In the 25 years since the system was released to the market, Bair Hugger warming blankets have been used in over 200 million patients.

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