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What's the Harm? - December 2015 - Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Outpatient Surgery Magazine, providing current information on Surgical Services, Surgical Facility Administration, Outpatient Surgery News and Trends, OR Excellence and more.

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greatest is that it staves off surgical wound infections. But what if the very act of forced-air warming causes SSIs? You've no doubt heard the claims … or seen the ads from law firms trolling for clients: Besides blowing hot air, forced-air warming units stir up the germs from the floor and cause them to go airborne. The jetstream of germs, the notion goes, rises alongside the table and set- tles over the surface of knee or hip implants in the sterile field. The germs can take root in the wounds and cause debilitating infections, especially in patients undergoing deep joint surgery. Not everyone is buying this (Bunch of) Hot Air Theory. "Commercially driven junk science that has no basis in reality what- soever," says an observer. 3M's lawyers say no reputable study has proven that forced-air warmers contaminate the air when they vent their waste heat. Just the opposite is true, they say. Decades of research and clinical experience show that using forced-air to maintain normal body temperature helps reduce the risk of infections and improves surgical outcomes. "Forced air is highly effective, easy to use, inexpensive and remark- ably safe," says anesthesiologist Daniel Sessler, MD, who has researched forced-air warming extensively as chair of the department of outcomes research at the Cleveland Clinic. 3M, which acquired the Bair Hugger as part of its acquisition of Arizant in 2010, is battling lawsuits from more than 50 orthopedic sur- gery patients who claim that Bair Hugger warming blankets circulated contaminants and caused their SSIs. Plaintiffs' attorneys are angling for a national suit with thousands of plaintiffs. "3M will vigorously defend the product and the science against these unwarranted lawsuits," says 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon. "We think it's unfortunate that the plaintiffs' attorneys are using bad science to blame their clients' infections on a device that 7 0 O U T P A T I E N T S U R G E R Y M A G A Z I N E O N L I N E | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5

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