Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Couple sues health care professional over infection following knee surgery

By Molly English-Bowers | Nov 23, 2015

An Illinois couple is suing health care professionals, alleging negligence over an infection caused by knee surgery.

Carol Wiltshire and Jeff Wiltshire filed a lawsuit on Nov. 4 in Madison County Circuit Court against OSF Healthcare, Dr. Bruce Vest, Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, and 3M Corporation.

According to the complaint, on Nov. 11, 2013, and several times thereafter, Carol Wiltshire contracted a post-surgical infection after knee replacement surgery. She alleges all four defendants failed to use the skill and appropriate care required for her recovery.

The lawsuit states that the first three defendants allowed the use of a product that 3M manufactured, called the Bair Hugger, when they should have known it was defective. This device, while wrapped around the patient's leg, caused air to be circulated toward the surgery site. However, the suit says, the air was circulated from the floor up, causing contamination to come into direct contact with the surgical site.

A spokesperson for 3M provided this statement regarding the lawsuit:

"3M wants patients, surgeons and hospitals to know that there is absolutely no merit to these claims. In over 25 years and more than 200 million patients warmed successfully by 3M’s patient warming products, there is not a single confirmed incident of infection caused by the Bair Hugger system. 3M is sympathetic to patients who experience surgical site infections.

"There are many factors that are known to increase the risk of surgical site infections, some of which include having other medical problems or diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, being elderly or overweight , and smoking. There is absolutely no evidence that Bair Hugger warming therapy causes or increases the risk of surgical site infections. Patient warming is a recommended practice by leading health care institutions and professional societies  - and the Bair Hugger system is a safe, effective and efficient method of doing so. It is unfortunate that plaintiff attorneys are using bad science to blame their clients’ infections on a warming device that has helped millions of people during surgery."

Carol Wiltshire seeks $50,000 from all four defendants, plus court costs and attorney fees. Jeff Wiltshire seeks the same amount on allegations of loss of consortium. The Wiltshires are represented by attorney John. J. Hopkins of John J. Hopkins Associates of Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1421.

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