Over the past decade, there has been a growing debate over the risks associated with inferior vena cava filters, commonly known as IVC filters. These filters are implanted in patients who suffer from blood clot complications to reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism, blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. However, studies have shown that extended retention of IVC filters in the body may increase the risk of blood clot as well as injury to organs.
What is an IVC filter?
Inferior vena cava is the main vein that carries blood to the heart from the lower body. An IVC filter is a spider-like wire inserted into the inferior vena cava in patients whose risk of pulmonary embolism (blockage in one of the lung arteries) is high.
The IVC filter is meant to prevent blood clots from entering the lungs, heart, kidneys and brain by trapping and letting the clots breakdown in the bloodstream over time. The filters are often recommended for patients who cannot take anticoagulant medication like Xarelto.
It is recommended that an IVC filter remain in the patients for no more than 12 weeks. The longer the filter stays in the patient the more difficult it is to remove, and the greater the injury risk.
There have been reports of the IVC blood clot filter breaking apart or getting dislodged. The device, or its fragments, can then travel through blood, making their way through a vein wall to puncture internal organs.
Blood clots have also been reported to occur at the spot where the device was lodged, the same clotting the filter is meant to stop. Here are the frequently reported injuries experienced when the IVC filter, or its parts, reach organs:
- Heart rhythm problems
- Chest pain
- Neck pain
- Hemorrhage and internal bleeding
- Pulmonary embolism
Some background information: High perforation, low retrieval rates
Recent medical studies showed that IVC filters perforated the interior vena cava as adjacent organs in 46% of patients. During a three-year period, only 1.3% of temporary IVC filters were retrieved. Two Cook Medical filters had significantly high perforation rate – Celect at 54% and Gunther Tulip at 46%. Further studies revealed that all IVC filters exhibited some degree of perforation within 71 days of use.
Further study revealed significantly higher in-hospital mortality rates for acute venous thromboembolism (VTE) patients who had IVC filter implants. Further, up to 26% of those patients received IVC filters without proper direction form their doctors.
The staggering number of IVC filter side effects reported since 2005 prompted the FDA to issue a warning on the device’s long term risks in 2010. In 2014, the FDA updated the warning stating IVC filter removal within 29 to 54 days after implantation. However, this warning came too late for some patients.
So, why are IVC filter lawsuits being filed?
IVC filter claims are stating that device manufacturers failed to warn the public, and physicians, of the increased risk of the filter dislodging, or breaking, and its fragments traveling through blood, potentially damaging other organs.
Lawyers are arguing that C.R. Bard (filter manufacturer) withheld the results of its own research which exposed the dangers of the filter, and even went ahead to forge an FDA employee’s signature to get approval for the device.
Can you file an IVC filter lawsuit?
If you suffered complications after undergoing IVC filter placement, then you may be eligible to file an injury lawsuit against the device’s manufacturer. With the help of an IVC injury attorney, potential claims may involve the following:
- Filter migration
- Filter fracture
- Vena cava perforation
- Filter embolization
- IVC deep vein thrombosis
Factors that may influence IVC filter compensation
Claimants are filing injury lawsuits against the manufacturers of IVC filters to hold them accountable for injuries caused by the device. They are also filing lawsuits to seek compensation for the pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and, in extreme cases, death. Several factors may determine the amount of compensation you receive from filing your IVC lawsuit. Here are some of them:
- Did the patient or the caregiver incur any loss of wages?
- If it is a wrongful death suit, how many people were dependent on the victim?
- What past and future medical expenses can be attributed to IVC filter injury?
- How serious are the IVC complications, and was hospitalization or surgery required to treat the complications?
- Have the claimant’s spouse and children suffered loss of companionship because of IVC filter injury?
If you, or a loved one, developed life threating complications after undergoing an inferior vena cava filter implant, considering seeking experienced legal help. A lawyer with experience in handling device injury cases can assess your IVC filter injury to determine if you are eligible for compensation. Comprehensive medical records, statements from your doctor as well as expert testimony can strengthen your case and help you get the compensation you deserve from your IVC filter injury.
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