A Philadelphia jury recently awarded $34 million to a Georgia woman who was injured by an IVC filter. Tracy Reed-Brown had surgery in 2010 during which an IVC filter was placed in a vein. The filter, which is intended to catch blood clots, was manufactured by Rex Medical LP.
The IVC filter was designed to be removable. However, due to alleged defects, the IVC filter was not able to be taken out. In 2016, doctors tried unsuccessfully for at least three hours to remove the filter. It is still inside her body.
Reed-Brown’s attorney referenced a study that indicated the IVC filter was prone to failure. He argued the device perforated Reed-Brown’s inferior vena cava and punctured her renal vein, aorta, and pancreas. Rosemary Pinto, another attorney representing Reed-Brown, says her client now has few medical options regarding the filter. She can either try again for surgery or leave it in her vein.
For their part, Rex Medical argued that the IVC filter was inserted incorrectly, not that it had a design flaw. They also pointed out that Reed-Brown did not seek any follow up treatment after the implantation of the device.
The case is historic, and not just because of the large verdict. There are over 700 lawsuits that have been filed against Rex Medical’s filter in Philadelphia. They were consolidated into a mass tort program, and Reed-Brown’s case was the first to go to trial. More trials are scheduled to begin at a later date.
IVC filters resemble small wire baskets and are inserted into the inferior vena cava (IVC) vein. The IVC carries blood from the body into the heart. But they can also carry blood clots that form in the lower part of the body. These clots can reach the heart or lungs, and cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The purpose of the IVC filter is to catch these clots and stop that from happening.
Typically, an IVC filter is not prescribed except in high risk situations where other options are not viable. For example, they are used where blood thinners cannot be used safely or effectively. Patients undergoing the following may have an IVC filter prescribed to them:
- Cancer treatment
- Treatment for an automobile accident
- Treatment for serious fall injuries
- Patients who recently gave birth
- Emergency surgeries
The risks of IVC filters include the following:
- Infection at the site of implantation
- Bleeding and bruising at the surgical site
- Piercing a blood vessel during surgical implantation
- Filter legs crossing or twisting, causing complications
- Incorrect surgical placement of the filter
- Fracturing of the filter
- Ineffectiveness of the filter
- Migration of the filter
The FDA recommends that IVC filters be removed as soon as medically possible. But in many cases, such as Reed-Brown’s, the filter cannot be removed. This commonly results in piercing and internal bleeding, which can cause fatal damage to the organs.
Doctors may be held liable if they improperly implanted the IVC filter. But manufacturers can also be responsible for design defects, as in the case of Reed-Brown. Product defect cases are often filed to seek numerous damages, such as:
- Medical bills, including for hospitalization and other treatments
- Lost income
- Decreased earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental distress
If you or a loved one have had an IVC filter implanted, talk to your doctor right away. Seek medical attention for any complications, and know the warnings signs to look for. If you’ve experienced serious side effects from an IVC filter, reach out to us.
We Can Help if You’ve Been Injured by an IVC Filter
Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. represents the victims of defective products, such as IVC filters. Cases are ongoing, and our firm can help if you’ve been injured. But you should take action at your earliest convenience to ensure you do not miss any critical filing deadlines. Give us a call today to discuss your case.