IVC Filter Risks Often Result in Decreased Use After Physician Education: Study
Amid a growing number of IVC filter lawsuits brought on behalf of individuals who suffered severe and devastating complications after receiving the small devices to help avoid a pulmonary embolism, new research suggests that once doctors learn about the risks associated with the blood clot filters, they are much less likely to implant them in patients.
In a study published in the May 2016 issue of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology (JVIR), researchers with Kaiser Permanente examined how physician practices change when they are familiar with current evidence and guidelines regarding inferior vena cava (IVC) filters.
These small, spider-shaped devices are often implanted for individuals at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism. They are implanted in the inferior vena cava to “catch” blood clots that may break free within the body, preventing them from traveling to the lungs.
Hundreds of product liability lawsuits are currently pending in courts nationwide, alleging that problems with IVC filters caused individuals to suffer injuries after the devices moved out of position, punctured the vein or fractured, often sending small pieces into the blood stream.
In this latest study, researchers put in place a continuing medical education covering evidence-based review of literature on the effectiveness of IVC filters, patient outcomes, guidelines for IVC filter indications and information on complications.
This education program was conducted across a large U.S. health care region that serves more than 3.5 million members. They then looked at IVC filter procedures throughout that same region at the same time, a year before and a year after the educational intervention.
Researchers found that after doctors were educated about IVC filter risks and guidelines, filter use decreased by 18.7% overall across the region. When they looked at those enrolled in the education program, the decrease was about 22.2%. Those decreases came in the face of a trend of increasing IVC filter use over a period of about four years.
In addition, the researchers found that the rates of attempted retrieval of IVC filters increased from 38.9% to 54%. They also found that the attempts were more successful among physicians who went through the educational programs.
“Physician education dramatically reduced IVC filter use across a large US health care region, and represents a learning opportunity for physicians who request and place them,” the researchers concluded. “Education and a novel tracking system improved rates of retrieval for IVC filter devices.
In May 2014, the FDA urged doctors to remove IVC filters within about one to two months after an individual was no longer at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism, since the risk of problems appeared to be greater the longer the filter was left in place. However, many manufacturers sold the devices for years without adequately informing physicians about the risks associated with leaving them in place.
IVC Filter Litigation
The litigation over IVC filters began to emerge in 2010, after the FDA indicated that more than 900 adverse event reports had been received involving the devices. Of those reports, 328 involved the IVC filter breaking free and migrating through the body, 146 involved components breaking loose, 70 involved the inferior vena cava being perforated and 56 involved the filter fracturing.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that the small devices are unreasonably dangerous, and contain inadequate warnings about the potential IVC filter risks.
As IVC filter injury lawyers continue to review and file complaints on behalf of individuals who have suffered migration or perforation problems, it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases will be filed against manufacturers of the devices, and it is possible that cases may also be pursued for individuals who suffered blood clots from IVC filters.
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