IVC Blood Filter Injury Lawsuits: The Dangers

What does an IVC Filter do, and what are the risks of suffering an IVC Filter Injury?

The inferior vena cava—the largest vein in the body—carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower extremities to the heart’s right atrium, then finally to the lungs. An IVC filter is a small, cone-shaped device with tiny metal spider legs which is implanted in the inferior vena cava, right below the patient’s kidneys. The IVC filter is designed to capture blood clots, or an embolism which has broken loose from a vein in the legs, and is headed toward the lungs or heart.

Blockage in an artery by a blood clot (pulmonary embolism) can lead to difficulty breathing, chest pain and death, however the IVC filter permits blood flow around the trapped blood clot. Then, over a period of time, the blood’s natural anticoagulants will dissolve the clot. The IVC filters which are most often implanted are known as retrievable filters, meaning they should be removed when the threat of a blood clot has passed. When this does not occur, serious IVC Filter Injury Dangers can result.

What is Wrong with the IVC Filter?

Because these retrievable IVC filters have been designed to be removed after a period of time—usually from 29 to 58 days—and they are not being removed in a timely manner, the result is a serious IVC filter injury risk to patients. Many believe there are inadequate warnings regarding the length of time the filter should remain in the body provided by the manufacturers of IVC filters, therefore IVC filter injuries have increased exponentially. If the manufacturers of IVC filters were aware of the dangers of leaving the filters inside the body too long, then they may be charged with failure to warn. Under product liability laws, the manufacturer is held liable for product defects regardless of whether there was negligence involved, and a failure to provide adequate warnings to doctors and consumers is considered a product defect. The most common dispute regarding failure to warn is whether the risk of injury to the plaintiff was obvious, or if the injury was wholly unpredictable.

What Are the Specific IVC Filter Injury Dangers?

As a result of IVC retrievable filters being left in patients for indefinite lengths of time, serious IVC filter injuries can occur. In fact, studies show that as many as 40 percent of retrievable IVC filters are being left in patients for longer than five years. This has resulted in filter strut fracture, which, in turn, can cause IVC filter migration, IVC filter hemorrhage, IVC filter severe bleeding injury, IVC filter pulmonary embolism, IVC filter stroke and IVC filter death. So far, there have been 27 deaths associated with an IVC retrievable filter. Embolism is the second-most frequently reported injury associated with a retrievable IVC filters left in patients far too long. Additionally, the following side effects and complications have been seen among patients with an IVC filter implanted in their body:

·         Chest pains;

·         Confusion;

·         Heart arrhythmia;

·         Hypotension;

·         Nausea;

·         Neck pain;

·         Internal bleeding;

·         Shortness of breath, and

·         Lightheadedness.

The majority of IVC filter injury dangers are the result of:

  • Filter breakage—One of the small metal spider legs can break away, traveling in the bloodstream to the heart or lungs, causing severe damage or death.
  • Perforation of blood vessels and internal organs—IVC filters can sometimes erode into the inferior vena cava, or perforate the inferior vena cava, damaging the vein or can perforate another internal organ.
  • Filter migration—An IVC filter can change positions, and become stuck, rendering it ineffective at the least, or dangerous, at the other end, if the filter migrates to a position where it can damage other organs.
  • Blood clots-- In some cases, if the IVC filter becomes clogged with clots, the heart and lower body will not receive the blood flow necessary.
  • Inability to retrieve the IVC filter—When an IVC filter is causing serious IVC filter safety problems, a doctor may attempt to retrieve the filter which has moved into a position that makes retrieval difficult, or impossible. 

What Are Your IVC Filter Injury Risks?

If your IVC retrievable filter has been left inside your body for longer than it should have been—any time after your risk for a blood clot has lessened—then your IVC filter injury risks will increase. While studies differ on the exact number of patients who will experience an IVC filter problem or IVC filter failure, the incidence is relatively high. One analysis, which reviewed CT scans for 262 patients found, that in 46 percent of the patients, the metal “legs” of the IVC filter had pierced either the inferior vena cava, or a nearby organ. Another Ohio State study of 591 patients, found some level of perforation in more than 44 percent of the patients. Unfortunately, many patients have no idea their IVC filter is causing problems until those problems are serious.

What About IVC Filter Deaths?

The failure rate of IVC filters appears to be at least somewhat dependent on the manufacturer and model of the filter. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about 25 percent of C.R. Bard Recovery IVC filters had experienced fractures, sending the broken struts into the body. Others have estimated extremely dire results from retrievable IVC filters left in the body too long, with predictions that half of all patients with a retrievable IVC filter implant will experienced a failure of the device within five years. Others believe that among the retrievable IVC filters left in the body indefinitely, nearly 100 percent will eventually fail. If you believe these predictions, it is possible there may be more IVC filter deaths.


What About IVC Filter Injury Lawsuits?

The first IVC filter injury lawsuits were filed against Bard in California and Pennsylvania state courts in 2012. Later, in October 2014, the US Judicial Panel on MDL consolidated lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturer Cook, from 11 districts to an Indiana MDL. The lawsuits against Cook has since increased to more than 100.  C.R. Bard settled a case filed by Kevin Philips about a week and a half after the trial began in February 2015. Philips claimed one of the tiny metal legs of his Bard Recovery IVC filter broke away, perforating his heart, and forcing him to have open heart surgery to repair the damage. Another MDL has been established in Arizona, with more than 50 lawsuits pending, and there are many additional IVC filter lawsuits pending in other state and federal courts.

How IVC Filter Injury Attorneys Can Help

If you have suffered IVC filter injuries or other serious IVC filter side effects, our IVC Filter Injury Lawyers can help. Our IVC filter injury attorneys believe you can benefit from discussing your situation with us. We can evaluate your potential IVC filter injury lawsuit, helping you determine the best way to move forward.

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