In America, litigation rules. Some people sue frivolously, like a woman who was burnt by McDonald’s coffee that was too darn hot (she won) or a man who sued a beach-front hotel after he was knocked over by a wave (he lost). But the majority of the lawsuits are worthwhile and about personal injury. Take my IVC (inferior vena cava) filter which came from my DVT (deep vein thombosis), for example. But first, a little background.
Two weeks before I had my stroke on that fateful day, April 8, 2009, I called my friend, an orthopedic surgeon, to ask about my foot and leg pain.
“If your pain continues, and it goes up to your knee, and even higher, go to the Emergency Room,” he said.
The pain was going strong, and before it got up to my knee, I went to the ER. The ER doctor did some blood tests and an ultrasound, and he came back with the results.
“You have blood clots in both legs. I’m going to have to admit you.” I was in New Jersey at that time.
All right, I said to my inner psyche, don’t panic. The blood clots don’t mean a thing. I took the day off from work. [I found out for sure 3 years later that Avelox, an antibiotic known as the family of fluoroquinolones, could produce blood clots]. I was in the hospital for a few days and went back to the law firm, Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia, where I was a Sr. Technical Trainer. The following week, I went to a hematologist in Philadelphia and he discovered my platelets were practically non-existent. But the trouble was nobody connected the dots. The doctors operated in a void.
When I had the stroke, though I was unconscious, it was told to me later by my son that I had blood clots in every extremity (arms and legs). So the doctor at Capital Health located in Trenton, NJ, put a Greenfield filter in my groin [there are many kinds of filters that all do the same thing] to catch the clots from going up to my lungs, heart, and brain. Resembling a windblown, useless umbrella, this is what it looks like. (Greenfield filters were recalled in 2005. A Greenfield filter was implanted in me in 2009. Was the defect solved? I don’t know, and that right there is an issue, too).
I was unconscious for 8 days, and when I awoke, my sons, the youngest playing the guitar at my bedside, and my partner (whom I left after 17 years, but that is another story for another time) were waiting. It’s all in the book. (The Tales of a Stroke Patient by yours truly, available at Amazon — https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Stroke-Patient-Joyce-Hoffman/dp/1479712493/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475474432&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tales+of+a+stroke+patient)
Anyway, now 8 years later, I joined a class action lawsuit a few years ago sponsored by Kirkendall Dwyer. The reason I joined the suit was I read a lot of cases where the filters moved and it got me antsy. I received a letter from Kirkendall Dwyer in November 2016 and here is what it said:
Dear Ms. Hoffman,
As you recall, Kirkendall Dwyer LLP represents you in a lawsuit related to your IVC Filter device. I am writing to inform you that we received the medical records in your case. They show that on 04/08/2009, you were implanted with the VENA TECH manufactured by BBRAUN. We are pursuing a claim related to that product.
It is very important that we have a current treatment history. Please let us know if a have had any of the following Injuries after the IVC Filter placement. [I had a pulmonary embolism, #4 on Rafael’s list, a couple of years ago]
1) Perforation of the inferior vena cava or any other organ
2) Migration of the IVC Filter Implant
3) Fractured, broken or shattered IVC Filter
4) Embolization (Blood Clots)
5) Ischemic Stroke (Stroke caused by a blood clot to the brain)
6) Tilting or slanting of the IVC Filter
7) Heart or Lung Injury caused by the IVC Filter
If you continue to have problems associated with the IVC Filter, then please schedule an appointment as soon as possible to have your problems evaluated. During your appointment, please be thorough in explaining your complications.
If you have any questions, then please do not hesitate to call the office.
Rafael Pena Costa Jr.
IVC Filter Case Manager
(214)271-4027, Ext 7048
Since I couldn’t travel to Kirkendall Dwyer which is in Houston and Dallas, TX, Rafael kept in touch with me by phone. Then last Friday, I received a letter that was a report from the radiologist who was hired by the lawyer as an expert that said there was a perforation in my inferior vena cava [#1 on Rafael’s list]. So I stopped doing the stationary bike until I saw a vascular surgeon who specializes, in part, in the treatment of disorders of the vascular systems, that is the body’s arteries and veins.
I saw the surgeon three days later and I showed him the letter from Rafael and the report from the attorney’s expert radiologist that said, in essence, my vein had been perforated by the filter and that warned the surgeon that an operation to remove the filter was needless.
“Forget that you have it,” said the surgeon. “The filter is supposed to be permanent and there is no way to remove it because the filter and your vein are one.” Then he pointed to the letter and showed me where the radiologist referred to my filter and my vein as occluded (dictionary definition says “taken into and retained in another substance.” That’s where filter and vein are one come into play.
“You may die on the operating table. Besides, 89% of the people have perforated veins from the filters.” His eyes kept darting back to the lawyer’s letter.
I believe the lawyer’s letter and the radiologist’s report are what colored the surgeon’s thinking. Doctors hate lawyers’ letters.
A few medical professionals in Pittsburgh know about the lawsuit. Word travels fast in the Steel City. But I’m going out to Portland, OR, next month to live near one of my sons. I’ll see a doctor in Portland, or Puddleton as it’s sometimes called [all that rain–get it?], without mentioning the lawyer. That way, I’ll get a straight answer. Word of mouth will probably die when it crosses the Rockies.
So call Kirkendall Dwyer if you have experienced any of the items on Rafael’s list. What do you have to lose? I’ll answer that. Nothing!
(RETRACTION: The attorney’s aide of Kirkendall Dwyer called me last night to tell me he appreciated the post, but the filter was a BBraun, not a Greenfield. He said they don’t handle Greenfield filter cases because they don’t cause that many problems. However, the BBraun is right up there causing problems as stated in Rafael’s list above. Even though the filters do the same thing–catch blood clots, my error came about because that filter information is the only thing I was told from the start of the stroke. So Greenfield filter, thumbs up; BBraun filter, thumbs down).