Each year, more than 600,000 Americans suffer from a pulmonary embolism (PE) – a sudden blockage of the lung’s main artery. The condition is typically the result of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot in the leg that migrates to the lung and increases pressure on the heart.
The condition is life-threatening and very difficult to anticipate. Patients at risk of a PE typically undergo anticoagulant therapy to resolve the issue. This involves a drug regimen meant to reduce the body’s ability to form blood clots, and is the preferred method of treatment by many doctors in the U.S.
But another type of treatment has already been adopted by hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S. – namely, those who are unable to undergo anticoagulant therapy. It’s called an Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter, and it looks a bit like a metallic spider. The device is inserted directly into the body’s largest vein (the IVC) to, in effect, “catch” blood clots before they reach the lungs.
What Happens When the Filter Is Defective?
The concept is sound, but research reveals the filters may actually be quite dangerous. In fact, a recent investigation by NBC News reveals that one brand of IVC filters is directly responsible for up to 40 deaths.
Even worse, after it was revealed that C.R. Bard’s filters had led to the death of 27 patients, the company refused to issue a recall for the device, and instead released a modified version of the filter that did not resolve any of the structural problems. In fact, the newer version of the device is now associated with an additional 12 deaths. Meanwhile, thousands of Americans at risk of a pulmonary embolism still have these defective, potentially lethal filters in their bodies.
In a confidential memo obtained by NBC News, it was revealed that Bard knew of the filter’s defectiveness and chose to do nothing.
Dr. William Kuo, the chief radiologist at the IVC Filter Clinic at Stanford University, told NBC News he has removed 1,000 failed filters over the past 10 years, and most of them were produced by Bard. Many of these defective filters have been found to “migrate” or float to other areas of the body – sometimes to the heart itself – while others simply break apart in the body and end up perforating or embedding themselves in the patient’s inferior vena cava.
“All of the data that we've seen in our own studies, as well as other clinician researchers', is that this device consistently fractures, consistently causes major complications," Kuo told NBC News. "The number of complications, the frequency of severe failures makes it obvious that it was never safe to be implanted.”
For Patients with IVC Filters
C.R. Bard needs to be held responsible for endangering the lives of DVT patients. If you or a loved one have had an IVC filter implanted, be sure to speak to your doctor, and be on the lookout for “pleuritic” chest pain – pain stemming from the lower part of the lung. If it is associated with shortness of breath you should seek immediate medical attention.
Even if you have not suffered health issues as a result of your IVC filter, you should speak with a medical professional about alternative therapies for deep vein thrombosis, and possibly consider removing the device altogether. If a loved one has died due to complications from a Bard IVC filter, you may have a case and could be entitled to compensation. Contact Sokolove Law today for a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.