Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Inventor Warns of Infection Risk

The inventor of Bair Hugger warming blankets, also called forced air warming blankets (FAW), is warning of the risk for infections the device could cause when used during orthopedic surgeries.

Dr. Scott D. Augustine invented the Bair Hugger warming blanket and introduced it in 1988. The blankets were a success, but now he is claiming the blankets have an increased risk of spreading infection during surgery.

“I am very proud of the old technology,” Augustine told the New York Times. “But I am also proud to spread the word that there is a problem.”

Doctors use the warming blankets in millions of surgeries every year to prevent hypothermia – a condition where the body loses heat quicker than it can produce it.

Augustine marketed warming blankets through his company Augustine Medical which later changed its name to Arizant. Augustine resigned from his positions as chairman of the board and chief executive of Arizant in 2002, and 3M purchased Arizant in 2010.

In a statement, 3M responded to Augustine’s claims: “We believe Mr. Augustine’s allegations against forced-air warming (FAW) stem from a personal vendetta and are baseless,” according to the Times.

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