A blood clot following surgery can be fatal if it travels to the lungs and causes a pulmonary embolism. Many patients are prescribed blood-thinning medications that can reduce their risk of developing this dangerous medical condition. However, for those who have adverse reactions to these medications, doctors may surgically insert an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter, which has been marketed as an alternative way to prevent blood clots. Unfortunately, IVC filters can cause serious medical problems that are sometimes fatal.
How IVC Filters Are Supposed to Work
An IVC filter is a small metal device that resembles a cage and is designed to trap blood clots in the lower extremities and prevent them from traveling to the heart and lungs. It is surgically inserted in the largest vein of the body, which is called the inferior vena cava.
The FDA approved the use of the first IVC filter in the late 1990s, and many more have been marketed since the early 2000s. There are two types of these filters: permanent and retrievable. Permanent filters are designed to be used long-term. Retrievable filters are designed to be temporary devices that are removed once there is no risk of blot clots developing, but also have the option of being left in for a longer period of time.
Major manufacturers of IVC filters are C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, Rex Medical, and Boston Scientific. Some common makes and models of IVC filters include the following:
- Bard G2 Express filter
- Bard G2 filter
- Bard Recovery filter
- Bard Eclipse filter
- Bard Meridian
- Bard Denali
- Cook Select
- Cook Gunther Tulip
Serious Complications Caused by IVC Filters
The dangers of IVC filters have been known since at least 2010 when a research study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that patients with the Bard Recovery and Bard G2 filters suffered injuries as a result of the fracturing or migration of the devices. That year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a safety warning after receiving more than 900 complaints of IVC filters causing injuries to patients. The FDA recommended that physicians closely monitor their patients and remove the IVC filter as soon as the risk of blood clots had passed.
Despite these warnings, IVC filters continue to be widely used. In addition, physicians often leave them in permanently. Some of the dangers of IVC filters include:
Some IVC filters can move or migrate. If their position changes, a blood clot may not be trapped in the device. Also, the IVC filter can move through the body into the lungs or heart.
Erosion or Falling Apart
The brittle legs of the filter can erode or break apart. If this occurs, the parts can puncture the vein, heart, lungs, or other nearby organs. Blood clots also would not be trapped in the device and could become life-threatening.
Some of the serious health complications that are caused by IVC filters include:
- Perforated organs
- Internal bleeding
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Device infection
- Blockage that causes swelling of the legs
Several of these complications may also be fatal.
Lawsuits Being Filed Against Manufacturers of IVC Filters
Thousands of individual and class action product liability lawsuits have been filed against C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, and other manufacturers of IVC filters for compensation for injuries that patients suffered as a result of the use of these devices. Allegations of wrongdoing against these manufacturers include:
- The filters have design and manufacturing defects.
- Manufacturers failed to warn patients of the potentially serious risks of these medical devices.
- Manufacturers breached the implied warranty on the IVC filters.
- Manufacturers and marketing companies promoting these devices were negligent.
What to Do If You Suffered Injuries Due to an IVC Filter Failure
If you had an IVC filter surgically inserted that has caused you to suffer injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our experienced mass tort attorneys are here to explain your legal options and to fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve.
We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis so that you owe no attorney fees unless we successfully settle your claim or win your case at jury trial. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact us online or call our office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation today.