Deep joint infections can lead to devastating and possibly even deadly consequences for affected individuals and their families, and attorneys across the country are calling for patients who received a knee or hip replacement and were later diagnosed with a deep joint infection to consider filing a claim for financial compensation. In many cases reported by patients or their loved ones, deep joint infections have been associated with the use of certain forced-air warming devices, like the Bair Hugger blanket, which are designed to keep patients warm during surgery, but may actually expose them to bacterial contamination. If you believe you have been harmed by side effects of the Bair Hugger blanket or another potentially dangerous medical device, contact an experienced product liability lawyer today for qualified legal help.
A deep joint infection is a bacterial infection of a joint, most commonly the knee or hip, and can affect both natural and artificial joints, i.e. following an artificial knee or hip replacement procedure. Deep joint infections can develop in the wound itself or deep around the artificial knee or hip implant, and may occur during the patient’s hospital stay or after he or she returns home, sometimes even weeks or years later. Some of the most common symptoms of a deep joint infection include the following:
Infections are caused by bacteria, and any infection in the body can spread to a knee or hip joint replacement following surgery. Although the immune system can effectively defeat most infection-causing bacteria, bacteria that gains access to an artificial implant may multiply and cause an infection before the body has a chance to respond. A common cause of deep joint infections that has garnered more and more attention recently is the Bair Hugger patient-warming blanket, which may cause bacterial contamination of the surgical site during knee and hip replacement surgeries.
Treatment for a deep joint infection may include nonsurgical methods, like intravenous or oral antibiotics, or surgical methods, which are typically required when the infection has gained deep access to the artificial implant. With early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of the infected implant being retained improves, but even with antibiotics and preventative treatments, some patients who develop a deep joint infection in or around an artificial knee or hip replacement require surgery to clean the infected wound, kill the infection and replace the implant.
In general, the longer a deep joint infection has been present, the more difficult it is to treat without removing the artificial joint. Infections that occurs months to years after the joint replacement surgery, and those that have been present for longer periods of time, almost always require a staged surgery, which involves removing the implant, cleaning out the joints and soft tissues, placing an antibiotic spacer to maintain normal joint space and alignment, and administering intravenous antibiotics.
Patients who undergo staged surgery for a deep joint infection typically require at least six weeks of IV antibiotics before they are ready for revision surgery to receive a new artificial joint. During revision surgery, the doctor will remove the antibiotic spacer, clean the joint again, and implant a new total knee or hip replacement device. In some cases of deep joint infections allegedly caused by bacteria being spread during surgery where the Bair Hugger blanket was used, patients have died or had to have the affected limb amputated.
According to numerous studies published in recent years, forced-air warming devices like Bair Hugger significantly increase the number of airborne particles over a surgical wound, and a growing number of patients diagnosed with deep joint infections are now pursuing legal claims against the makers of the Bair Hugger blanket, alleging that the companies knew about the potential for the forced-air warming device to cause deep joint infections in patients, yet failed to provide adequate warnings about this risk. If you underwent surgery where the Bair Hugger blanket was used, and you have since suffered a deep joint infection, sepsis, MRSA or the need for amputation, consult a reputable deep joint infection attorney to explore your possible compensation options.