Madison - St. Clair Record

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Patient alleges infection from medical device

By Molly English-Bowers | May 6, 2016

BENTON – A patient claims she suffered injuries after a medical device allegedly introduced contaminants to a surgical knee wound and caused an infection.

Jill Schlueter and Robert Schlueter filed the suit April 27 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare Inc.

This litigation concerns a 3M product known as the Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming device, which is used during and after surgical procedures, the suit says.

According to the complaint, the Bair Hugger device was used on plaintiff Jill Schlueter during knee replacement surgery on Feb. 19, 2013. She subsequently was diagnosed with MRSA, a potentially deadly infection, according to the suit. She alleges the Bair Hugger introduced contaminants to her open surgical wound, causing the MRSA infection.

As a result, the infection forced the plaintiff to have a two-stage revision of the knee surgery over a seven-month period, according to the complaint. She also claims she suffered further hospitalizations, skin grafts, blood transfusions and extended home healthcare.

The counts against both defendants are negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and deceit, breach of express and implied warranties, liability and loss of consortium.

In addition to a trial by jury, the plaintiffs seek compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, punitive damages to be determined at trial, court costs and other relief the court may deem proper.

A spokesperson for 3M provided a statement on the lawsuit:

"3M wants patients, surgeons and hospitals to know that there is absolutely no merit to these claims," stated 3M communications manager Donna Runyon.

"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.”

Plaintiffs are represented by Thomas J. Lech of Goldenberg Heller Antognoli & Rowland PC in Edwardsville.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois Case number 16-cv-462

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3M U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois East St. Louis