Multiple manufacturers of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters have had nearly 400 lawsuits filed against them following failures of the implantable device. There are currently two multidistrict litigations concerning IVC filters in the United States, including 289 lawsuits against Cook Medical that were consolidated in MDL 2570 and 93 lawsuits consolidated against Bard in MDL 2641.
The IVC filter is a device designed to be inserted into the inferior vena cava to regulate blood clots in the cardiovascular system. The filters are used to trap a migrating blood clot and prevent it from reaching the brain or the lung, which could cause a stroke or pulmonary embolism. Thin, spider-like appendages are used to hold the filter in place and catch blood clots before they can cause severe injuries. Unfortunately, many patients have experienced device breakage or the migration of the IVC filter itself.
Some IVC filter failures have been catastrophic in nature. Plaintiffs allege that parts of their filters have broken free from the filter and migrated to other organs or perforated their veins. Sometimes the pieces come to rest in the heart itself. In other cases, the IVC filter has become imbedded into organ tissue so deeply that it becomes virtually impossible for doctors to retrieve. Plaintiffs accuse the manufacturers of knowing about the risks of migration and internal injury and not sharing those risk with consumers or their medical practitioners.
A study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine in April 2013 found that less than 10 percent of patients fitted with the retrievable IVC filter were able to have the device successfully removed. Patients who have been implanted with retrievable IVC filters have an increased risk of complications if the filter is left implanted for too long. The FDA released renewed guidance for doctors and the medical community in 2014 saying that retrievable IVC filters should be removed within 29 to 54 days following implantation. For most patients implanted with the devices, this has not been possible and they must live with the IVC filter permanently.
Patients with retrievable IVC filters that cannot be removed face further complications and ongoing medical care to minimize the risk of more injury from the device. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, approximately 900 adverse events reports had been had been sent to the regulator about the devices by the end of 2010, including reports of migration, fracture and embolization, and perforation of the inferior vena cava. If you believe that you have been harmed by an IVC filter, you should contact a personal injury attorney to learn about your options for compensation.