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A blood clot filter can save your life. An inferior vena cava or IVC filter can prevent a blood clot from blocking blood flow to the lung, thus reducing the risk of pulmonary emboli or acute deep vein thrombosis.
But blood clot filters can also be dangerous. An IVC filter left in too long can perforate the vein or detach from the vein and migrate elsewhere, causing unintended blockages or damage. So how long is too long when it comes to leaving in blood clot filters?
Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Journal of the American Medical Association have studied the adverse health effects associated with long-term use of an IVC filter. By 2010, the FDA had already received hundreds of reports of device migrations, embolizations (detachment of device components), perforations of the IVC, and filter fractures. A 2014 JAMA study found that patients were twice as likely to suffer a fatal pulmonary embolism if they had IVC filters and received anticoagulation medication, and warned against the use of IVC filters in patients that could be treated with anticoagulation.
So, in 2014, the FDA recommended that "implanting physicians and clinicians responsible for the ongoing care of patients with retrievable IVC filters consider removing the filter as soon as protection from pulmonary embolism is no longer needed." The FDA's research suggested that IVC filters are best removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation, so long as the patient's risk for pulmonary embolism has passed.
Your doctor is probably the best position to assess your risk of pulmonary embolism and decide the best time to remove an IVC filter. That said, you may be able to sue for injuries due to a blood clot filter. If the device fails, you could have a product liability claim against the device manufacturer. If the device was left in too long, you could have a medical malpractice claim against your doctor.
Either way, an experienced personal injury attorney will best be able to assess your legal options if you've been injured by an IVC or blood clot filter.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.