According to Boca Raton medical injury attorney Joseph Osborne, Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are designed to prevent serious injuries but can cause them if they are defective or in the patient’s body too long.
Boca Raton medical injury attorney Joseph Osborne says, probably all medical devices started with a good idea and good intent. There was a medical problem that a person, or team of people, thought they could solve. Over time and with effort their idea became a product and it was put into the market. Too frequently this good intent and hard work actually ends up harming some patients, notes defective medical device attorney Joseph Osborne. That’s what happened with the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. If you have had one surgically implanted but not removed you may be in danger.
The inferior vena cava is the largest vein in the human body. It’s formed by the joining of the two common iliac veins at the level of the fifth lumbar vertebra in the spine and returns blood to the right atrium of the heart from bodily parts below the diaphragm, explains Boca Raton medical injury attorney Osborne.
The filter, which is a cone shaped set of wires, is surgically placed in the vena cava of those who are at risk of pulmonary embolism. That is the sudden blockage of a major blood vessel in the lung, usually by a blood clot. In most cases these clots are small and not life threatening, but they can damage the lung. If the clot is big enough it can stop the blood flow to the lung which can be fatal.
Retrievable IVC filters were designed to protect people temporarily from suffering a pulmonary embolism by preventing the movement of blood clots into the lungs. Permanent filters have long term side effects these filters were designed to avoid, however, many of these removable IVC filters are mistakenly being left in place too long or indefinitely.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety warning in 2010 (which was updated in 2014) recommending that physicians caring for those with IVC filters consider removing them when the danger of a pulmonary embolism or a blood clot has passed. The FDA took this action because of possible long-term complications from IVC filters, including death due to a filter breaking up, moving within the body or poking through the vena cava.
The dangers of IVC filters reached the public’s attention in September of last year when NBC News ran a story of injuries caused by their use. They reported,
- At least 27 deaths and 300 injuries have been connected to these IVC filters.
- Some of the injuries reported in the story included a filter breaking up with parts reaching one patient’s heart or the entire filter reaching another patient’s heart causing his death.
NBC News reported that after injuries and deaths became known the manufacturer hired a public relations firm to lessen their impact on the company and its sales (34,000 were sold before an improved version was introduced) spending its resources to protect its image instead of protecting its patients.
The company also hired an outside physician study of the filter and resulting injuries and deaths. The results, intended to be confidential but obtained by NBC News, were that these IVC filters had higher rates of relative risk for death, filter fracture and movement than all its competitors. “Further investigation is urgently warranted,” the author wrote. NBC found that the manufacturer had known for years about high risks of serious injuries and deaths due to its IVC filters.
If you have had an IVC filter implanted in you and it has not been removed you should contact your physician to discuss the dangers you’re facing and whether the filter should be removed. If you have such a filter, been injured by one, a family member has one or has been injured or killed by an IVC filter time is of the essence. Contact our office so you can talk to a medical device liability attorney about your situation, how the law may apply in your case and your best legal options for obtaining compensation.