The possibility of a blood clot forming in a patient’s cardiovascular system is extremely serious. Clots can travel through the blood stream and can lodge in a number of different locations, causing complications like deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. With this knowledge, several medical device companies have created IVC filters in an attempt to capture these blood clots before they can cause damage thereby lessening the harm done by blood clots and saving lives of those at risk.
What is an IVC Filter?
An IVC filter is a small, metallic device that is generally shaped like a cone. Named for the inferior vena cava where it is placed, an IVC filter is designed to capture and trap an embolism, commonly called a blood clot, that has formed in one of the deep veins in the legs as it travels towards the heart or lungs. The inferior vena cava is the largest vein in the body and therefore has the ability to accommodate the passage of large blood clots as they move through the circulatory system. If a blood clot is present, an IVC filter is designed to prevent the clot from moving to another part of the body where it will remain in the IVC filter until the body’s natural anticoagulants break down the clot with the passage of time.
IVC filters are generally seen as a secondary option for the prevention of an embolism in an at-risk patient. If a patient continues to get blood clots while on a blood thinner, if the patient is not eligible for a blood thinner, or if the patient tries a blood thinner but has complications from the drug, an IVC filter may be an appropriate treatment to address the formation of blood clots and the danger they can cause if they move to the heart or lungs.
Possible Injuries from an IVC Filter
IVC filters have been used in medical settings to help patients who are at risk for blood clots, but in some cases, they have done significantly more harm than the help they purport to offer. Patients with IVC filters have experienced serious complications including:
- Migration of the device
- Filter fracture
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Perforation of the inferior vena cava
- Perforation of other parts of the cardiovascular system
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Pulmonary embolism
Allegations against several of the 11 manufacturers of these devices include claims that the designs of these IVC filters are faulty, leading to an unreasonable risk of damage to the filter and potentially life threatening complications for a patient. Other claims state that these devices were introduced into the marketplace before an appropriate amount of testing was conducted and before the full range of potential side effects were identified, thereby leading patients to elect treatment with an IVC filter without the full knowledge of its risks.
Recent documentation obtained by a major news source shows that Bard, the largest manufacturer of IVC filters on the market today, knew about potential safety issues with its Recovery and G2 series of filters. Yet instead of recalling these devices, Bard continued to make and sell its IVC filters with the knowledge that they may fail after implantation in a patient. Today, at least 27 deaths and hundreds of additional serious medical complications have been linked to these defective medical devices.
Current State of IVC Filter Injuries in Chicago
As of 2010, the Food and Drug Administration states that IVC filters are intended for short-term use only and that leaving them placed for too long can lead to serious complications. At this time, the FDA recommends that IVC filters be removed if possible and after the completion of their use. However, not all types of filters can be removed which means that some patients will face a risk of failure of those filters for the remainder of their lives. In other patients, removable filters may have fractured and/or migrated from its original placement, making a filter’s removal difficult or even impossible for the sake of the patient’s health.
Though the risks associated with IVC filters are very real, they continue to be implanted in roughly 250,000 Americans each year. Many of those patients are not having the filters removed even though the FDA recommends removal when practical, and as a result, many do not realize that their IVC filters have failed until they face a life threatening medical emergency.
If you were injured by an IVC filter or if someone you love lost their life due to a complication with the device, know that you may be entitled to legal relief. In Chicago, you can receive a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation by contacting the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or locally at (312) 924-7575 where we have a licensed attorney standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week.