Shoulder Pain Pump Lawsuits: Answers To FAQs

Pain pumps used in shoulder surgery have been linked to a debilitating condition known as PAGCL, or Postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis. While hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers, many shoulder surgery patients who were given a pain pump still have questions. To answer some of those questions, we asked Jeff Milman, a California pain pump attorney whose practice focuses in the areas of personal injury and medical malpractice. Here are his answers:

Question: When was the link between pain pumps and chondrolysis (PAGCL) first recognized?

Answer: It's actually been becoming more and more recognized over the past two years. Most lawsuits have been filed in 2008 and are continuing to be filed in 2009.

Question: What manufacturers are involved in pain pump lawsuits?

Answer: There are several, but the biggest ones are I-FLOW, which is a manufacturer located in California and also a fairly large manufacturer known as Stryker, which is located in Michigan. Some attorneys are choosing to also name of the maker of the anesthetic, such as AstraZeneca; although some choose not to. That really is a management decision from a litigation standpoint.

Question: What theories of liability are being alleged?

Answer: These claims are multi-faceted. There are negligence claims and strict liability claims in both design and failure to warn. Negligence requires that a manufacturer either knew or, with some suspicion, should have had indications of a problem and acted upon it. Strict liability is a different theory. It basically says if you put a product out on the market and reap the benefits of that profit, then you are held accountable for the damage those products cause if there’s a defect in either design or manufacture. It does not require prior knowledge or a determination someone acted unreasonably.

Question: Is there any cure for chondrolysis?

Answer: Well, there’s a spectrum. It depends when it’s caught and what type of a joint injury is involved. However, it isn’t going to get better once you’ve got it. In the extreme cases, you have to totally reconstruct the shoulder with an artificial device. So, the host of symptoms could be clicking, pain, arthritic changes, popping, decreased range of motion and can require the need for long-term medical care. In the very extreme cases, you actually lose the entire shoulder joint.