IVC filters appear to have definite risks and few benefits when used for trauma patientsTrauma patients, and their families, understandably want a medical solution to their medical emergencies. They want to get better and they want medical professionals to help them.

For trauma patients at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism who cannot safely take blood thinners, a surgical medical alternative has been used by doctors to prevent these dangerous embolisms. That alternative is to implant a filter into the inferior vena cava—a large vein that carries blood from the lower part of the body to the heart and lungs. These medical devices, known as IVC filters, are metal cages that are supposed to catch the blood clots and prevent them from causing a dangerous, life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Unfortunately, they may not have any significant benefit for trauma patients.

A New Study Finds IVC Filters Do Not Lower the Death Rate in Trauma Patients

In September 2016, a study published in JAMA Surgery found that the risk of dying was no different for trauma patients who received IVC filters and for trauma patients who did not receive IVC filters at Boston Medical Center from August 1, 2003 to December 31, 2012. The study found that there was no difference in death rates 24 hours after surgery, six months after hospital discharge, or one year after hospital discharge.

But IVC Filters Do Come With Risks

Instead of helping trauma patients live longer, IVC filters could have the opposite effect. IVC filters tend not to be removed once they are implanted. The study published in JAMA Surgery found that only 8 percent of IVC filters were removed during the average follow-up period.

IVC filters can cause significant and dangerous side effects, such as:

  • Cutting or piercing the inferior vena cava.
  • Internal organ or blood vessel damage.
  • Bleeding.
  • Death.

These problems occur when the IVC filter moves in the body, when it breaks in the body, or when it pierces any internal part of the body. Thus, in 2010 the FDA recommended that retrievable IVC filters be removed from patients’ bodies as soon as possible after being implanted.

IVC Filters From at Least Three Manufacturers May Be Dangerous

In addition to the general risks described above, IVC filters from specific medical device manufacturers have been reported to be dangerous. Specifically, there are concerns about IVC filters made by:

  • C.R. Bard. Studies and investigations have reported a high rate of failure among IVC filters made by Bard. An NBC investigation found that 25 percent of Recovery IVC Filters made by Bard broke while still inside the bodies of patients. As of October 2016, there were 886 pending actions concerning Bard IVC filters in multidistrict litigation.
  • Cook Medical. A study published in the Journal of Vascular Interventional Radiology found that the Cook Celect Filter punctured patients’ inferior vena cavas. As of October 2016, there were 933 pending actions concerning IVC Filters in multidistrict litigation against Cook Medical.
  • Boston Scientific. At least one lawsuit alleges that Boston Scientific’s Greenfield IVC Filter broke, perforated the inferior vena cava, caused bleeding, and caused death.

Bellwether trials, or the first test cases, are expected against Bard and Cook in 2017.

Legal Action and Your IVC Filter Recovery

It is not too late for you to take action if you have been hurt or if your loved one has been killed by an IVC filter complication. However, in order to make a fair recovery, you are going to have to protect your rights. You are going to have to take action by talking to your doctors about what caused your injury or your loved one’s death, and by talking to an IVC filter injury lawyer about how to protect your rights and recover from the party responsible for your injury or your loved one’s death.

Your time to take action is limited; accordingly, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience. We are available for a live chat via this website or by phone at 888-450-4456 all day, every day. We would be pleased to provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky
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