Background: Retrieval of inferior vena cava filters (IVCFs) is important to decrease the long-term risk of complications associated with indwelling devices. Our hospital experienced low retrieval rates and implemented a low-cost intervention and evaluation for quality improvement. The working hypothesis was that a simple, mailed letter intervention could increase retrieval rates by increasing patient and primary care provider knowledge of the need for retrieval.

Methods: For all prospective patients who received a retrievable IVCF during the intervention period from January 1, 2014 to February 29, 2016, patients and their primary care providers were mailed letters encouraging contact with the clinic for evaluation of eligibility for retrieval. The main outcome was retrieval of the IVCF if clinically indicated with a secondary outcome of time-to-retrieval. A pre-intervention control group from October 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013 was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention. Competing risks, time-to-event analysis was used to compare the pre- and post-intervention period retrieval rates correcting for patients who died during follow-up.

Results: Between the pre- and post-intervention periods, crude retrieval rates increased from 4.4% to 8.1% with a 12-fold change at comparable time points. The time-to-retrieval in the pre-intervention period was a mean (SD) of 503 (207) days with a median (IQR) of 505 (301-742). In the post-intervention period, time-to-retrieval was a mean (SD) of 119 (83) days and with median (IQR) of 128 (38-164) days.

Conclusions: This low-cost intervention significantly increased retrieval rates in a single clinic. However, retrieval rates remain low and can be further improved. Ongoing interventions, including improved patient follow-up and physician education, are being implemented to further improve retrieval and use of inferior vena cava filters. Implanting clinics should implement quality improvement initiatives to improve patient care and follow-up with IVCFs to ensure retrievals occur once clinically relevant in order to minimize long-term complications.

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Published in Patient Safety in Surgery, v. 12, 5, p. 1-6.

© The Author(s). 2018

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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