IVC filters help prevent blood clots from reaching the lungs by catching and filtering them. Many patients, unfortunately, have experienced serious and sometimes fatal side effects with these devices. Anyone who has been advised to get an IVC filter needs to understand their risks and why doctors prescribe them. Legal action to obtain compensation may be available to IVC filter patients who have been injured.

An IVC filter looks similar to a small wire basket. It is surgically inserted into the inferior vena cava, or IVC, vein. The function of the IVC is to carry deoxygenated blood from the body into the heart. Blood clots can form in the legs or pelvis of some individuals and travel up the IVC. When this occurs, the clot may reach the heart or lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The IVC filter prevents the clot from reaching the heart or lungs by trapping it.

Doctors prescribe IVC filters for people with a high risk of pulmonary embolisms when other medical treatments aren’t an option. In other words, IVC filters are considered to be a tool of last resort. They are prescribed for patients who cannot use blood thinners safely or effectively. Some common reasons for which an IVC filter may be recommended to a patient include the following:

  • Dialysis treatment
  • Cancer treatment 
  • Car accident injuries
  • Serious fall injuries
  • Patient who recently gave birth
  • Emergency surgeries

The safety and effectiveness of IVC filters not well-established, but the risks are. Many doctors have expressed concern that these devices are being prescribed too often. Some of the dangers, such as infection, have to do with the surgical implantation of the filter itself. There are other risks posed by IVC filters, such as:

  • Piercing a blood vessel during surgical implantation
  • Bruising and bleeding at the surgical site
  • Incorrect placement of the filter
  • Complications from filter legs crossing or twisting
  • Fracturing of the filter
  • Ineffectiveness of the filter
  • Blockages caused by the filter

The risk that the filter may migrate from its intended position is the most dangerous problem. Doctors may be unable to remove the IVC filter if it travels from its insertion site. The FDA advises that IVC filters should be removed as soon as medically possible. Otherwise, the risks outweigh the benefits.

An IVC filter that has traveled may pierce through a vein. This can cause internal bleeding, pain, and possible damage to other vital organs. If the IVC filter travels to the heart or lungs, it can result in serious injury or death. These problems may have been prevented if the doctor had removed the filter sooner.

The manufacturers of the IVC filters themselves may also be liable. The FDA has issued several warnings concerning the devices. Patients often unknowingly agree to use them without understanding the risks or side effects. Lawsuits often claim that manufacturers negligently designed, produced, and sold defective and dangerous IVC filters. In some cases, plaintiffs claim that these companies misrepresented their product. They also claim that manufacturers failed to warn doctors and patients of the dangers.

One major risk of a traveling IVC filter is that a patient’s internal vein may be pierced. Costly and dangerous surgeries, plus hospitalization and recovery time, are required to treat this. Patients who have been injured by IVC filters should seek legal representation to recover their losses. Compensation may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering and physical and mental trauma
  • Scarring 
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability

In some tragic cases, complications from IVC filters may even include death. Family members of deceased IVC filter victims should retain a wrongful death attorney at Persist Communications. They can then discuss pursuing claims against physicians or manufacturers.