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Federal Court Dismisses More Than 5,000 Lawsuits Against 3M's Patient Warming System

The ruling, which follows a recent Minnesota appeals court dismissal of suits against 3M, is the latest in a 6-year legal battle.

Published: August 2, 2019

DISMISSED DISMISSED A court has dismissed more than 5,000 lawsuits against 3M that claim its Bair Hugger patient warming system directly led to surgical site infections.

A federal court dismissed more than 5,000 lawsuits against 3M that claimed its Bair Hugger patient warming system was responsible for infections suffered by patients during surgery.

The dismissal is the latest in a 6-year legal battle between plaintiffs and 3M, and comes 6 months after the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a state court order dismissing 61 similar lawsuits against the company's patient warming system. The judge's memorandum does not impact 2 similar state court cases against 3M's Bair Hugger (one in Missouri and one in Texas), which are ongoing.

"There is no legitimate scientific support for the plaintiffs' theory. We are pleased that the court has dismissed all of the cases in the multidistrict litigation," Dr. Todd Fruchterman, general manager of 3M's Medical Solutions Business said of the judge's decision.

Scott Augustine, MD, an anesthesiologist and the CEO of Augustine Surgical in Eden Prairie, Minn., and the man who invented the Bair Hugger in 1987, has a different take on the dismissal of the lawsuits against 3M. While Dr. Augustine, whose company sold the Bair Hugger back in 2003 and who owns a competing patient warming system (HotDog) which he tried to sell to 3M, wasn't directly involved in the lawsuits against 3M, he has been a persistent crusader against the safety risks of the Bair Hugger system.

In a statement on the HotDog website, Dr. Augustine said, "Our hearts go out to the horribly injured patients who may not get their day in court. Of course, the ruling will likely be appealed, so this may just be a pause in the litigation. No matter what happens with the litigation against Bair Hugger, one key fact remains: Forced-air warming increases contamination in the sterile field and increases the risk of infection. The science proving contamination of the sterile field from forced-air warming systems — and increased infection risk — is irrefutable. It is just physics: heat rises, and rising heat carries particulates with it."

Jared Bilski

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