Archive April 2019 XX, No. 4

Heated Debate

Scott Augustine, MD, the inventor of the Bair Hugger patient warming device, claims it causes SSIs. The manufacturer, and the courts, so far have disagreed.

Matthew Nojiri


Augustine Surgical
SELF CRITICISM Scott Augustine, MD, seen here with his HotDog Patient Warming System, claims the forced-air Bair Hugger device he created 30 years ago causes SSIs.

Scott Augustine, MD, begins an hourlong pitch about the dangers of the Bair Hugger forced-air patient warming system he invented — and is now campaigning against because, he asserts, it can cause infections in joint implant patients — with a simple scientific statement.

"Heat always rises," says Dr. Augustine, an anesthesiologist and CEO of Augustine Surgical in Eden Prairie, Minn. "It has to. It's physics."

For 30 years, Dr. Augustine has been at the frontier of patient warming, and he's spent much of the last decade warning about the dangers of the Bair Hugger. He claims the forced-air warming blanket system, which 3M acquired for $810 million in 2010 from Arizant Medical (Dr. Augustine resigned in 2002 as Arizant's chairman and CEO), disrupts the OR's natural air flow, forcing hot air up while stirring contaminated particles from the floor and into the sterile field.

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