IVC filters are designed to prevent blood clots from reaching the lungs in certain high-risk individuals. While these devices have helped many patients, others have experienced serious and sometimes fatal side effects. You should understand the risks associated with using IVC filters and why doctors prescribe them. If you’ve suffered health complications because of one of these filters, you may be entitled to compensation.
The IVC filter resembles a small wire cage and is surgically inserted into the inferior vena cava, or IVC, vein. The IVC carries deoxygenated blood from the body into the heart. Although rare, a blood clot can form in the legs or pelvis and travel up the IVC. If the clot reaches the heart or lungs, it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The IVC filter traps the clot or blockage and prevents it from reaching the heart or lungs.
IVC filters are considered to be a tool of last resort for people with a high risk of pulmonary embolisms. These are patients for whom blood thinners are not effective or safe. In other words, doctors generally prescribe IVC filters where other medical treatments are not an option. These are some common reasons for which a filter may be recommended to a patient:
- Injuries suffered from car accidents
- Injuries suffered in serious falls
- Patient who recently gave birth
- Dialysis treatment
- Emergency surgeries
- Cancer treatment
Doctors have expressed concern that these devices are being overused. Their safety and effectiveness are not well-established, but the risks are. Many of the hazards, such as infection, are associated with the implantation of the device itself. Other risks posed by IVC filters are:
- Excessive bruising or bleeding at the surgical site
- Puncturing a blood vessel during implantation
- Problems with filter placement
- Problems with the filter legs crossing or twisting
- Fracturing of the filter
- Ineffectiveness and continued risk of blood clots
- Blockages in the vein caused by the filter
The most dangerous risk, however, is that the filter will migrate from its intended position. If the filter travels from its insertion site, doctors may be unable to remove it later. The FDA recommends that IVC filters be removed as soon as medically possible before the risks outweigh the benefits. If the filter travels, it may pierce through a vein, causing internal bleeding, pain, and possible damage to other organs. Serious injury or death may also result if the IVC filter travels to the heart or lungs. In many cases, these problems could have been prevented if the doctor had acted in time to remove the filter.
But liability sometimes lies with the manufacturers of the IVC filters themselves. The FDA has issued numerous warnings concerning the devices. Many patients unknowingly agree to use them without understanding the risks. Most IVC filter claims say that the manufacturers negligently designed, produced, and sold defective and dangerous products. Some lawsuits claim that these companies misrepresented their product and failed to warn doctors and potential patients of the dangers.
When IVC filters travel from their intended position, patients face the risk that an internal vein may be pierced. Treatment for this can require costly and dangerous surgeries, plus hospitalization and recovery time. Injured IVC filter patients may be entitled to compensation for several losses, including:
- Medical expenses, past, present, and future
- Lost income and lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Physical and mental trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent disability
And of course, in many tragic cases, the complications from IVC filters can include death. Surviving family members of IVC filter victims could be entitled to wrongful death claims against physicians and manufacturers.
If You’ve Been Injured by an IVC Filter, Our Legal Team Can Help
Regardless of whether a doctor or manufacturer is responsible, IVC filter victims deserve compensation for their injuries. Product defect and medical malpractice cases are complicated and demand aggressive, experienced attorneys. Let our team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. work for you. Give us a call today to set up your consultation.