NBC Nightly News Exposes Alarming IVC Filter Risk
The first of a two-part segment regarding inferior vena cava filters (IVC Filters) aired on the NBC Nightly News yesterday. The follow-up coverage will be airing tonight on the Nightly News with Lester Holt.
The news segment investigates the dangers of IVC devices, particularly the Bard IVC Recovery Filter device. According to the report, the IVC filter was designed to save lives but had an alarmingly high failure rate, and a propensity to cause severe personal injury to patients.
What’s more shocking is that doctors were never warned of the risk or the dangers associated with these devices.
As the NBC Nightly News reported, experts are saying that the failure rate is so high, that eventually, every device will fail; leaving it not a question of “if” but “when.”
What Is An IVC Filter?
An inferior vena cava filter or IVC filter is metal, cone-shaped device that is implanted just below the kidneys in the inferior vena cava – the largest vein in the body. The device is used when there is a blood clot in the leg known as a deep vein thrombosis. The filter is designed to capture the blood clot before it makes its way to the heart and lungs. A blood clot reaching the lungs can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
Typically, when blood clots occur, blood thinners are the standard therapy. However, an IVC filter would often be prescribed as an alternative when there was a contraindication to using a blood thinner.
A 2004 car accident left Dodi Forehlich with extensive injuries that put her at a high risk for blood clots. As a precaution, doctors implanted an IVC filter.
Four months later, Froehlich suffered a debilitating headache and passed out. She told NBC that she was flat-lining in the ambulance, long before even reaching the hospital.
Doctors found that a piece from the IVC filter had broken off and pierced her heart. The only way to save her was through emergency heart surgery. Froehlich, a mother of two, keeps the sharp metal piece to this day.
Others are not so lucky. Twenty-seven people have died because of their IVC device.
Did Manufacturers Know The Risks?
The two major manufacturers of IVC filters are Cook Medical and C.R. Bard. Both manufacturers are facing similar allegations. Patients who were injured by their products claim that the manufacturers designed devices that were unreasonably dangerous.
FDA Never Recalled IVC Filters
In August of 2010, now over 5 years ago, the FDA announced a warning about the risk of IVC filter injuries, noting that they had received hundreds of adverse reports where filter devices broke apart and traveled to other areas of the body or caused perforation and migration.
Despite the alarming findings, the FDA never launched a thorough investigation, nor had they issued a recall of the potentially dangerous devices. The FDA refused to schedule an interview with NBC journalists regarding the IVC filters.
Medical Study Findings
In March 2013, JAMA Internal Medicine journal questioned the effectiveness of IVC filters. They had found that less than 10% of the study patients had successful removal of the device, and 8% of IVC filter patients developed pulmonary embolism despite the device.
In May 2014, the FDA cautioned doctors to remove IVC filters within about one to two months after the risk of a pulmonary embolism has passed, noting that many doctors were not adequately warned about the importance of retrieving the devices.
IVC Lawsuits Filed
There are thousands of people, like Dodi Froehlich, who have suffered severe injury after using the IVC filter, and lawsuits have been filed across the U.S.