Louisiana Record

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Women allege Bair Hugger caused infection in decedent

By The Louisiana Record | May 23, 2016

Medical malpractice 05

BATON ROUGE – Executrixes are suing a manufacturer and its subsidiary over allegations a medical device caused an infection that led to a man's death.

Mary A. Woodyear, Olivia W. Elliott and Maria W. Bowen, as executrixes of the succession of Edgar C. Woodyear Jr., filed a complaint on April 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana against 3M Co. and Arizant Healthcare Inc. citing alleged negligence, breach of express warranty and design defect.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that on May 8, 2014, decedent Edgar C. Woodyear Jr. underwent a cardiac mitral valve replacement surgery during which the defendants' Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming device was utilized. As a direct result of using of the Bair Hugger, decedent allegedly suffered a serious surgical site infection, which ultimately resulted in his death on Sept. 4, 2014. The plaintiffs hold 3M Co. and Arizant Healthcare Inc. responsible because the defendants allegedly designed, manufactured, promoted, marketed and distributed the defective device and concealed and continue to conceal their knowledge of the Bair Hugger’s unreasonably dangerous risks from consumers and the medical community.

A 3M spokesperson responded to the suit with this statement:

"3M wants patients, surgeons and hospitals to know that there is absolutely no merit to these claims," stated the company's communications manager, Donna L. Fleming 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.”

The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek compensatory for damages of more than $75,000, prejudgment and post-judgment interest, costs of this suit, attorneys’ fees and for such further and other relief that the court may deem just and equitable. They are represented by Neal R. Elliott Jr. of Neal R. Elliott Jr. Law Firm in Baton Rouge.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana Case number 3:16-cv-00270

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U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana