The Unintended Consequence of Forced-Air Patient Warming

The waste air from forced-air warming is actually waste heat. The heat is not vented safely from the OR but instead rises into the ventilation airflow, mobilizing contaminated floor air into the sterile surgical field above the table.

Blog 2018-06-04T19:59:30+00:00

Treating Hypothermia During Liver Transplant Surgery

Dr. Scott Lindberg, Director of Liver Transplant Anesthesia at Houston Methodist Hospital, shares his experiences with treating hypothermia in one of the most difficult patient populations for inadvertent hypothermia: the liver transplant patient. Dr. Lindberg has had great success with the HotDog Patient Warming System. There are two video options: 1) a short version with just the highlights, and 2) longer version filled with specific recommendations to help you get the best outcomes. Thanks for watching!  

By | December 8th, 2018|Comments Off on Treating Hypothermia During Liver Transplant Surgery

3M Attempts to Mislead Federal Judge With Erroneous Study Conclusions

3M Attempts to Mislead Federal Judge With Erroneous Study Conclusions: Previously published data contradict conclusions of the Jeans study Click here for the full analysis (PDF) In a recent study pre-published online by Jeans et al, the authors conclude that screening for methicillin sensitive staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and treating those that test positive before surgery significantly reduces periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) rates. However, McGovern and Reed previously reported published and unpublished data from one of the three hospitals in the study that directly contradicts the Jeans’ conclusions.  Jeans did not account for the confounding effect caused by the switch from Bair [...]

By | September 4th, 2018|Comments Off on 3M Attempts to Mislead Federal Judge With Erroneous Study Conclusions

3M Wins First Bair Hugger Case; 8 More Cases Prepare For Trial

The first question to the jury, in summary: “Did plaintiff prove that Bair Hugger was unreasonably dangerous and that a safe alternative was available?” The alternative, the Court ruled, had to be another air-blowing device to meet defective design requirements (it could not be HotDog®, another electric warming system, or a water-based system). The jury’s answer: “No.” With that, the jury determined that 3M’s Bair Hugger patient warming device would not be held responsible for a South Carolina man’s orthopedic infection. The trial of 76-year-old Louis Gareis’s claim was the first of more than 4,500 cases filed against Bair Hugger in [...]

By | May 30th, 2018|Comments Off on 3M Wins First Bair Hugger Case; 8 More Cases Prepare For Trial

Journal of Hospital Infection: Forced-Air Warming An Infection-Control “Hazard” in Implant Surgery recently submitted a press release regarding a review article published by Journal of Hospital Infection.  The press release is as follows: Surgical-infection experts have unambiguously concluded that forced-air warming “...does contaminate ultra-clean air ventilation….” in the operating room. Their advice: Use air-free warming during implant surgery. PRLog - Nov. 12, 2014 - MINNEAPOLIS -- “Infection Control Hazards Associated with the Use of Forced-air Warming in Operating Theatres," appears in the scientific publication of the Healthcare Infection Society, Journal of Hospital Infection. The article, in press, can be found on-line here. The authors, including surgeon D.L. Leaper, chair of the committee that drafted the UK’s surgical-site infection guidelines, summarized the [...]

Patient Advocate Warns Against Forced-Air Warming

A well-known patient advocate now urges surgical patients to avoid forced-air warming—even to change hospitals if necessary. The advocate, Rosie Bartel, speaks from experience. Infected with MRSA during a knee-replacement procedure at a hospital using forced-air warming, Bartel has undergone 27 subsequent operations— including amputation of her leg to the hip. The MRSA remains active. After researching how the pathogens rose from the floor of the operating room into the sterile field, Bartel concluded that Bair Hugger warming blew particles into her wound, causing the MRSA infection. Bartel has a website ( to share her findings and give her advice to patients. Click on [...]

Infection Risk from Forced-air Warming Considered; Study on Bacterial Contamination Recommended

International Orthopedic Consensus “We recognize the theoretical risk posed by forced air warming blankets,” concluded the Consensus Statement recently released by the International Consensus on Periprosthetic Joint Infection. While not urging a change in practice, the Consensus Statement recommended that further studies be undertaken regarding the safety of forced-air warming (“FAW”) in orthopedic implant surgery. Delegates from more than 50 countries and 80 different societies met in August 2013 to evaluate scientific literature and identify areas for further research. Among the other conclusions relating to periprosthetic joint infections and the risk of airborne contamination: 1. Airborne particulate bacteria are a major [...]

Nursing Journal: Forced-Air Warmers May Allow Pathogens to Contact Surgical Wounds

AORN Journal, noting concerns about infection risk from forced-air warmers, called for multi-center, randomized, controlled trials. Evidence of bacteria in the air-flow paths of forced-air warmers; authors ask manufacturers to consider redesign. In a continuing-education review article in the October issue of AORN Journal,published by the Association of Operating Room Nurses, the authors examined 192 sources.  Their conclusions included the following: “Clinicians should take steps to prevent health care–associated infections from the use of forced-air warmers….”  Such steps include “routinely and meticulously” cleaning the devices.  Forced-air warmers may interrupt the flow of filtered air toward the area of the wound and may [...]

Recent A & A study: “These findings warrant future research into the effects of forced air warming…during contamination-sensitive surgery.”

August 2013  Research in the August edition of Anesthesia & Analgesia, a publication of the International Anesthesia Research Society, and appearing under the name of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation stated: “[F]orced air warming was found to establish convection currents that mobilized resident air from nonsterile areas (under the anesthesia drape) upward and into the surgical site.” The clinical concern, according to the article, is that the convection currents created by Bair Hugger will mobilize contaminants and/or impede the ventilation systems’ ability to clear contaminants from the surgical site.  The concerns, they stated, “are most relevant for smaller airborne particles…such as free-floating bacteria [...]

AANA Journal: 96% of Bair Hugger Blowers Contaminated

August 2013 Research published in the August issue of AANA Journal revealed that 96% of Bair Hugger forced-air warming (FAW) blowers studied were generating “significant levels of contamination.”  The researchers, including two UK orthopedic surgeons, measured up to 110,000 particles per cubic foot--82,500 particles per second.  More than 70% of the blowers “had hose-end airflows with higher contamination levels than in intake airflows.” The contaminates, therefore, were incubated inside the Bair Hugger blowers. The problem, researchers concluded, arises from the blowers’ inadequate air filtration. Originally designed to provide 93.8% efficient intake filtration, the current-model Bair Hugger filters perform at only 63.8% efficiency.  This poor filtration, [...]

By | January 16th, 2014|0 Comments

“Wave” of Bair Hugger Litigation?

A news article published in Clinical Quality & Infection Control, a publication of Becker’s ASC Review, stated: “Recent studies published in medical journals questioning the safety of forced-air patient warming in orthopedic implant and other ultra-clean surgeries could mean a wave of new litigation.” The studies, said the writer, show that forced-air blowers contain internally generated airborne contaminates and microorganisms that “could contaminate the surgical site….” The journal did not mention Bair Hugger by name, but the device constitutes more than 90% of the forced-air warming (FAW) systems used by hospitals in the United States. FAW systems blow heated air through a [...]