As medical technology has progressed, one of the innovations has been the invention of IVC filters. Known as Inferior Vena Cava filters, they have been used in patients over the past decade. Designed to catch life-threatening blood clots, the filters have been implanted in numerous patients. However, as more data has begun to emerge regarding IVC filters, a number of patients have started filing a vein filter injury lawsuit, alleging the IVC filters did not perform as expected.
As a result, the filter’s manufacturer, Cook Medical, has been hit with numerous lawsuits in recent years. Currently, there are almost 1,400 lawsuits pending against Cook Medical, with more expected to follow in the coming months. At the core of the lawsuits is the claim of patients that they were not told of potential dangers associated with implantation of the device, and that the filters themselves were not properly tested by Cook Medical prior to being made available to patients.
However, Cook Medical attorneys have argued that the filters are in fact safe, and that any incidents that have occurred represent only a fraction of patients who have successfully had the filters implanted. In fact, Cook Medical attorneys argue that since the most recent type of IVC filter, the Cook Celect, was approved in 2007 without the benefit of clinical trials, it was deemed to be safe enough for use with patients experiencing problems with blood clots.
Yet despite these arguments, attorneys for patients who have experienced problems with IVC filters point to a number of what they perceive to be disturbing problems Cook Medical was aware of prior to getting approval for the Celect. According to attorneys for the plaintiffs in these cases, much of the problem lies in the design of the filter. Made with needle-like wire legs, the filter is thus anchored inside the inferior vena cava vein. However, many patients have experienced problems with the filter’s legs digging too far into the vein, resulting in a puncture.
While the puncture itself may not cause any symptoms, lawyers argue this usually leads to the filter starting to tilt. By doing so, the hook that is located on top of the filter digs deeper and deeper into the vein. As a result, when problems do arise, the filter becomes difficult or impossible to remove from patients, leaving many in extreme pain and discomfort.
Although lawyers for Cook Medical have disputed these findings through various means, recent research into the issue has yielded a variety of results. For example, while an initial study conducted by researchers in 2009 concluded that hook embedment was beginning to be a common problem, the studies conducted in 2012 and 2015 gave plaintiffs much ammunition to pursue their cases. In the 2012 study, researchers determined 86 percent of Cook Celect filters penetrated through the vein within five months after being implanted. In another study conducted in 2015, researchers determined the perforation rate for the Celect filter was 43 percent, versus no penetrations for a similar filter, the Option IVC filter from Rex Medical.
Due to the number of patients filing a vein filter injury lawsuit, and the expected increase of lawsuits in the coming months, it is hard to predict how these cases will turn out. While there does appear to be a common problem being experienced by patients with Cook Celect filters, it is still difficult to determine if the problems are widespread, or do in fact represent only a small number of patients. However, as more data is gathered and analyzed, attorneys for both sides will continue their arguments.
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