Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are devices implanted in patients at risk for life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE) who cannot tolerate anticoagulation therapy or for whom the anticoagulation therapy is ineffective. The filters are implanted either permanently (i.e., permanent filter) or with the intent to remove them (i.e., retrievable filters) when the risk of PE has passed or when anticoagulation therapy can be initiated. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a device safety alert regarding retrievable IVC filters that described several types of adverse events involving filters, some with serious patient outcomes, and suggested that these events may be related to retrievable filters being left in patients longer than clinically necessary. Between June 2004 and November 2010, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority received 35 reports describing adverse events related to implanted IVC filters. FDA and other literature on IVC filters suggest that managing patients with filters, especially continued follow-up visits after filter implantation or removal, is an important part of the process in reducing complications from filters. Careful consideration of the indications for placing IVC filters, the indications for removing filters, as well as follow-up care and evaluation of patients with retrievable filters, can all help reduce the likelihood of complications following filter implantation.
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