An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small, spider-like medical device designed to prevent blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs. These devices are facing hundreds of lawsuits over allegations of faulty design and manufacture.
The filter is surgically implanted into the IVC, the largest vein in the body. The IVC carries deoxygenated blood from the legs and lower extremities into the heart and lungs for reoxygenation. IVC filters can be either short-term or permanent implantations. The filter becomes more difficult to remove the longer it stays in the body.
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert about IVC filters after receiving patient and medical practitioner complaints. Some of the complaints included:
Device migration and permanent embedding in veins and organs
The FDA now recommends that patients with retrievable implants consider removing them. Removal is recommended as soon as the risk of pulmonary embolism has passed. Practitioners should assess patients' risks/benefits profile when considering filter removal.
Most complaints claimed that IVC filter manufacturers failed to adequately inform patients and medical practitioners of the device risks. Others claimed the filters were poorly designed and manufactured, which lead to device failure. Regardless of why the filters failed, victims say that they would have chosen a safer alternative had they known of all of the associated risks.
Here are the IVC filter models and brands that have come under scrutiny:
There are two multidistrict litigations (MDL) involving the IVC filters. Courts use MDLs to consolidate hundreds of lawsuits into a larger, more efficient effort. MDLs against CR Bard and Cook Medical have been created to make litigation more efficient. The MDLs may help those injured by IVC filters receive fair compensation.
More than 90 lawsuits against CR Bard's IVC filters have been consolidated into an MDL in the District of Arizona. U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell is overseeing the CR Bard MDL of Arizona. The discovery phase - when both sides examine evidence and conduct interviews - is scheduled to be completed by October, 2016.The first bellwether trials will likely take place in 2017.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young presides over more than 280 Cook Medical lawsuits consolidated in the Southern District of Indiana. Settlement conferences are expected to take place in May, 2016 and the first cases set for trial in September, 2016.
IVC filter failure can be dangerous and expensive. You may require additional surgeries to remove or treat faulty filters. If you are suffering due to an IVC filter, consult with an experienced IVC filter attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be eligible for financial compensation.
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