Being told that you have a blood clot that could potentially lead to injury or death is a frightening experience for most individuals. As a result, many take the doctor’s advice and begin using medication to treat the blood clots. Unfortunately, medication does not work in every case. When this happens, a physician may recommend that you have an IVC filter implanted in your body to try and trap the clot before it causes serious harm. The bad news for patients who have gone this route is that significant side effects have been linked to the use of IVC filters.
What Is an IVC Filter?
IVC stands for inferior vena cava. The inferior vena cava is a large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood in order to treat patients with blood clots. In order to prevent serious harm caused by a pulmonary embolism, medical device makers created a small filter that is implanted deep inside the body. A pulmonary embolism is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition where there is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. Pulmonary embolisms most often develop as a result of blood clots traveling to the lungs from the legs or other parts of the body. The purpose of the filter is to capture the blood clots before they enter the lungs. Unfortunately, these filters have been linked to serious injury in some patients.
IVC filters have been used by medical professionals for nearly 50 years. Several different manufacturers produce the device. These manufacturers include Cook Medical, as well as C.R. Bard Inc. C.R. Bard produces The Bard Recovery filter, the Bard G2 filter, and the Bard G2X Express filter. Each device was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, various safety communications have been released since 2010 indicating a risk of adverse effects associated with the use of the filters. The FDA has received over 1,000 reports of adverse events linked to IVC filter use since 2005. To date, at least 27 deaths and 300 injuries have been reported with regard to patients who had IVC filters implanted. The highest risks are believed to be associated with IVC filters not being removed when the risk of pulmonary embolism has subsided, and instead being left in the body for too long of a period of a time. The device was designed to be used only on a short-term basis.
Who Is at Risk of an IVC Filter Injury
A pulmonary embolism, the condition that the IVC filters were designed to prevent, is most often caused by a condition known as deep vein thrombosis. A person with deep vein thrombosis has a blood clot somewhere within the body, most often in the leg. If the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs a pulmonary embolism can result.
While anyone can develop blood clots, certain groups of people are at an especially high risk. These groups include:
- People who are immobile.
- People who have cancer and are receiving treatment.
- People who have recently had surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement.
- People with a previous history of blood clots.
- People who suffer from spinal cord paralysis.
- People who are taking post-menopausal hormone replacements.
- People with varicose veins.
- People who have suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or stroke.
- People with inflammatory bowel disease.
- People who are pregnant or giving birth.
Patients suffering from dangerous blood clots can be treated with various types of blood thinning medications or other drugs. When these interventions do not work, doctors may then turn to an IVC filter to try to prevent a pulmonary embolism from occurring. It is these patients who may be at risk of harm caused by IVC filter use.
Hazardous Side Effects of IVC Filters
While IVC filters may prevent pulmonary embolisms in some patients, others are not so fortunate. There are various risks associated with the use of an IVC filter, including the following:
- The filter can move or tilt within the body, causing harm if the blood clot is able to get past it.
- The filter can break apart within the body, allowing the clot to escape.
- The filter or some of its parts can move to the heart or lungs, reducing the ability to trap a clot.
- The filter can cut the inferior vena cava.
- The filter can be difficult to remove.
If any of these scenarios should arise, patients may suffer harm. The type of harm experienced may vary from one patient to another, but IVC filter use has been linked to the several harmful effects, including:
- Internal organ damage.
- Bleeding and bruising.
- Blood vessel damage.
Unfortunately, the makers of IVC filters, including Bard, may not have done enough to warn or protect patients from these dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects. Bard has been accused of negligence, failure to warn, design defects, manufacturing defects, and other serious allegations in the various lawsuits that are now being filed by victims and their families.
Take These Steps After Being Harmed by an IVC Filter
If you or a loved one suffered an injury as a result of an IVC filter, it is crucial that you act quickly to protect your legal rights. We recommend that you take the following steps:
- Contact an experienced attorney familiar with defective medical device litigation.
- Gather copies of all of your medical records relating to blood clots, IVC filter use, and subsequent treatment.
- Gather copies of all communications relating to the IVC filter use and subsequent injuries.
- Keep an accurate record of the expenses you have incurred as a result of the harm caused by the IVC filter.
Successfully pursuing a claim for compensation against a drug maker after an injury caused by an IVC filter or other medical device requires that you take the proper actions and arm yourself with a knowledgeable and experienced legal team in your corner. We have helped many victims and their families obtain the compensation that they deserve after suffering harm from a medical device. We encourage you to check out our many case results to learn more.