If You Lost a Loved One to IVC Filter Complications, You May Have Grounds for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

lawsuit formWhen patients are in danger of developing frightening blood clots, such as pulmonary embolisms or deep vein thrombosis, but are unable to take a blood-thinning medication, doctors often prescribe an IVC filter as an alternative treatment.

These small, many-pronged devices are implanted laparoscopically into the body's longest vein—the inferior vena cava—where they catch and hold blood clots until they dissipate, preventing them from reaching the brain, lungs, heart, or legs, where they could do serious damage. However, sometimes, IVC filters are every bit as dangerous as the health conditions they're designed to guard against.

Most of the IVC filters in use today are the retrievable variety. Despite their name, once placed, doctors very rarely go back in to remove them. This practice can cause a number of serious complications, including death.

When a loved one dies unexpectedly due to complications from a defective IVC filter, the decedent's surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the device's manufacturer to seek compensation for both economic- and non-economic damages. A trusted personal injury attorney with experience handling defective medical device and wrongful death lawsuits can help guide potential plaintiffs through each and every step of the litigation process.

Dangerous IVC Filter Complications

Because retrievable IVC filters are designed for temporary use, they're are less durable and far more prone to problems than their permanent counterparts. As a result, these IVC filters may break apart or dislodge as a whole unit, and migrate to other parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, kidneys, or liver. While making their way through the body, the device's many prongs—whether they're still attached or have broken free—can wreak havoc on soft tissue by puncturing veins or organs, or causing infection.

Also, when doctors fail to remove retrievable IVC filters in a timely fashion, they can have the exact opposite effect as intended. For example, IVC filters are supposed to protect against dangerous blood clots, but when they're left in the inferior vena cava for too long, they can actually cause recurring blood clots to form at the insertion site, in the vein, and in the legs.

So how long is too long to leave a retrievable IVC filter in the body? After receiving numerous reports of adverse events, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned doctors that the risk of complications associated with IVC filters increases the longer the device remains in the body. In 2014, the FDA further updated IVC filter warnings with a recommendation for devices to be removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation, as the potential risks begin to outweigh the benefits when the device stays in the body longer than 54 days.

Additionally, a 2016 Boston Medical Center study found the use of IVC filters in trauma patients failed to offer them any survival benefits compared to patients who did not receive IVC filter devices. As a result, the researchers urged doctors to rethink the conventional wisdom of implanting IVC filters in trauma patients as soon as they come into the emergency room.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you're an immediate family member of the decedent or were financially dependent on them for your survival, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for damages. Other family members or individuals who may file wrongful death lawsuits include:

  • Members of the decedent's extended family, such as sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, and grandparents
  • Life partners, punitive spouses, and other dependents

Are You Considering an IVC Filter Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The sudden death of a loved one can be both emotionally and financially devastating. While a wrongful death settlement can never replace the person you lost, it can help ease financial burdens. You can pursue compensation for economic losses, such as medical costs and funeral expenses, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more.

McGartland Law Firm's skilled legal team can help you navigate the legal system during this unsure and emotional time. Contact us today to make an appointment for a no-cost initial consultation to discuss your case.