Negligent use of IVC filter

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Claimant, who had a history of hyper-coagulation syndrome to include PE’s and DVT’s, developed breast cancer and required a lumpectomy.

An IVC filter was advised and placed prior to the lumpectomy to protect the Claimant against injury from clots because her anticoagulants had to be stopped for the lumpectomy to proceed. A permanent rather than a retrievable filter was selected.

Subsequently the IVC filter became blocked and as a result the Claimant suffered pain and swelling in her abdomen, back and legs. Her walking distance and mobility generally are restricted as a result. She requires assistance with activities of daily living and she has been unable to return to her job.

The Claimant’s case was that a retrievable filter should have been placed and that this should have been removed after the lumpectomy which would have avoided the filter having become blocked.

The Defendant admitted breach of duty and causation of but not the extent of injury. In particular, the Defendant alleged that the Claimant had certain pre-existing unconnected health problems which were causing or contributing to her ongoing difficulties.

Medical expert evidence in the case revealed that the ‘struts’ of the filter (which is shaped like an umbrella) had moved with the passage of time so that one strut had penetrated a vertebra in the Claimant’s spine and others were lying close to organs and blood vessels.

When this came to light, the Claimant was given permission by the court to amend her Particulars of Claim to plead provisional damages. This meant that if one or other of the filter struts moved and caused further damage, the Claimant would be able to return to court for a further payment of damages even after her case had settled.

The case proceeded toward trial and the Defendant made various offers which were not attractive.

Recently, as a result of the Lord Chancellor’s decision to reduce the discount rate for calculation of future losses, the Claimant’s Schedule of Loss was recalculated and the value of her claim increased.

The Defendants then made a further offer and after a period of negotiation the claim settled for a substantial 6 figure sum, 4 months before trial.