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When an elderly individual suffers from a pulmonary embolism (PE), approximately one in six of them receive inferior vena cava (IVC) filters to decrease their risk of having subsequent PE. PE occurs when an artery in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot, which often forms in the arm or leg before traveling into the lungs. PE is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

Last month, a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that using inferior vena cava (IVC) in patients over 65 with acute PE may increase their 30-day and 1-year mortality rate. The study consisted of data from 214,579 Medicare patients who were discharged from the hospital between 2011 and 2014 with a principal discharge diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. Researchers discovered that elderly PE patients with an IVC filter had a one-year mortality rate of 20.5%, while a control group that did not receive a filter had a mortality rate of 13.4%.

IVC filters are small devices inserted into the IVC, which is the largest vein in the body. They are designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to organs such as the lungs, where they can cause severe damage. While they are often successful in doing so, they can also cause other serious health consequences including:

  • Filter erosion
  • Dislodging and migration of the filter to other parts of the body
  • Punctured organs or tissues
  • Persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing

To minimize the likelihood of experiencing a negative side effect, IVC filters should be removed as soon as any patient’s risk for subsequent PE decreases.

Our law firm of Childers, Schlueter & Smith is well-versed in drug and medical device litigation and might be able to help you or a family member who is suffering due to complications caused by an IVC filter. If you have questions, please give us a call at 800-641-0098. All initial inquiries are free of charge and without obligation.

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