Port-A-Cath Lawsuits

Implanted Ports - What Are They?

Implanted ports, alternately known as port-a-caths or subcutaneous ports, are medical devices that make it easier for healthcare professionals to access a vein, and to administer treatments to patients. These devices are implanted under the skin to deliver medication directly to the veins of the patient.

While they have proved quite effective for treating certain conditions, they have also increasingly been shown to pose a risk. When an implanted port malfunctions, it may leak medicine into the body at an uncontrolled rate. This can cause complications like infection and has resulted in the death of some unfortunate patients.

Implanted Port Complications

Port-a-cath complications have already led to multiple lawsuits. These suits claim that leakage from these devices has resulted in injuries such as:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Constant severe pain
  • Symptoms consistent with a heart attack
  • Tissue and organ perforations
  • Blood clots
  • Necrosis
  • Infection and sepsis
  • Pressure around the heart
  • Death

Most of these complications require surgery to correct, and any unnecessary surgery can run the risk of long-term harm or death. The most concerning complications are blood clots and infection.

Blood Clots

Adding an artificial pathway to your circulatory system increases the likelihood of blood clots, and many port-a-caths end up developing blood clots, especially if they have been implanted for a long time. An untreated blood clot can cause a heart attack or a stroke, so if you have any reason to suspect that you may have one, speak to a doctor immediately and get evaluated.


The tissue surrounding a port-a-cath is more susceptible to infection. If it is detected early, it can be treated with antibiotics, but otherwise, it will require surgery to remove the device. Regardless, an infection is usually an expensive condition to treat and one that can cause additional complications that also require treatment.

Cracking and Breakage

Another common design flaw is even more concerning. Some devices fracture after being implanted in the patient, which also results in uncontrolled leaking.

Additionally, these fractures can cause another type of harm. Pieces of the device can travel freely through the body, causing internal bleeding and damage to any organs they enter. If these broken pieces reach the lungs or heart, there is a good chance they will result in the patient’s death.

If your port-a-cath has broken in any way, you likely have a very strong case. Damage to a Port-a-cath likely indicates a design flaw, as there is almost nothing you can do to break a port-a-cath installed inside you.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a leaking implanted port or port-a-cath, contact the attorneys at Ratzan Weissman & Boldt for a free consultation.

Why Implanted Ports Are Leaking

There are several brands of implanted ports used in the United States. While multiple brands are prone to leakage, not all of them leak for the same reason. Some common defects are leading to leaks, though.

Vortex Devices Break Down

The popular Vortex Port has a design flaw due to the materials it is made of. This port is partially made of silicone mixed with barium sulfate. Unfortunately, this combination of materials results in the silicone breaking down over time. And that leads to medication leaking from the device.

Defective Locking Mechanisms

The locking mechanism in these devices is supposed to control the speed at which it administers drugs to the patients. Unfortunately, some of these devices include a design flaw allowing the medication to leak into the body uncontrolled. This is dangerous with any type of drug, especially when these devices are used for chemotherapy.

Cracking and Breaking

Another common design flaw is even more concerning. Some devices fracture after being implanted in the patient. This also results in uncontrolled leaking.

Additionally, these fractures can cause another type of harm. Pieces of the device can travel freely through the body, causing damage to any organs they contact. If these broken pieces reach the lungs or heart, there is a good chance they will result in the patient’s death.

Removal of Devices

An additional flaw has become the centerpiece of some lawsuits. Most of these devices were not designed to be easily removed. Typically, even if a device isn’t malfunctioning, it requires invasive surgery to be removed.

This is magnifying the harm caused by these malfunctioning devices because there is no easy way to stop the harm once a device fails. And the surgery required to remove these devices may end up being as dangerous as the failed port-a-cath in the first place.

However, despite the difficulty of removing these devices, that is currently the only way to prevent additional harm. If you or a loved one was injured from a defective implanted port, report the issue to your medical provider as soon as possible. 

FDA Recalls

While lawsuits involving port-a-caths are relatively recent, these devices have been known to be dangerous for decades. The FDA first instituted a recall for a port-a-cath back in 2004. Several more have been recalled during the intervening decades.

Cook Medical Recall

One of the largest and most recent recalls was a 2017 recall of 31,000 Vital-Port Vascular Access Systems by Cook Medical. According to the recall notice, the device could release silicone pieces into the patient’s bloodstream, both directly harming the patient and preventing adequate delivery of medication.

Implanted Port Lawsuits Due to Recalled Devices

Just because a device has been recalled doesn’t necessarily mean that a doctor respects that recall. If a doctor installed a recalled device in you or failed to advise you that your device was recalled after it was installed, you should speak to an attorney immediately to discuss your legal options.

Past Port-A-Cath Lawsuits

At this time, multiple lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers, doctors, and hospitals for implanted ports installed in patients. These personal injury lawsuits have been brought in several states for many different reasons.

For example, the family of Jesus L. III filed a lawsuit against Texas Children’s Hospital due to his death after having an AngioDynamics Vortex Port implanted in him in 2019. The device malfunctioned within weeks, resulting in broken pieces migrating through his body and chemotherapy chemicals leaking.

Expected Settlements or Payouts in Implanted Port Lawsuits

At this point, the full extent of the harm caused by defective port-a-caths ports is not fully known. There hasn’t been enough time to identify all of the complications that arise from leaking implanted ports.

However, as a general rule of thumb, medical cases like these, involving defective medical products, can have a very high maximum payout, particularly if they result in lifelong impairment or complications. Internal damage is difficult to treat and can easily require decades of treatment while preventing patients from working.

If you or a family member has been harmed by a leaking port-a-cath or implanted port (including death), you could be eligible for at least tens of thousands of dollars-some verdicts will likely end up resulting in millions of dollars in compensation. 

Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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