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Shoulder Pain Pump – Do You Have a Lawsuit?

Can I Settle my Case Without Hiring an Attorney?

If you have had shoulder surgery, you may be familiar with a shoulder pain pump: a medical device designed to ease shoulder pain after arthroscopic surgery. With a shoulder pain pump, a catheter is placed in the patient’s shoulder joint, and medication is infused through into the joint for two to three days.

Unfortunately, there have been many cases in which the improper application of pain pumps has resulted in serious and permanent injuries. In a 2007 study conducted by the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM), it was discovered that the permanent damage posed to cartilage from shoulder pain pumps far outweighed the benefits of the temporary pain relief that these devices offered. While the dangerous techniques that led to these injuries are widely known among medical practitioners, our Northern New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers find it essential to keep the public informed because the continued use of pain pumps may constitute a breach of care, entitling the victim to damages. Even if you were injured in the past by a shoulder pain pump, you may have a lawsuit that requires the attention of a Northern New Jersey malpractice attorney.

How do Pain Pumps Cause Injuries?

The study mentioned above, authored by Dr. Charles Beck, found that an alarming 63 percent of patients who were implanted with shoulder pain pumps to treat post-operative pain developed an extremely painful and often permanent condition known as postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis, or PAGCL.

PAGCL is a result of shoulder pain pumps that inadvertently deliver much more pain medication to the affected area than is necessary. Over time, unnecessary doses of medication destroy the cartilage of the shoulder, causing the bones of the joint to come into direct contact with each other. This debilitating condition has been described as quite painful and can eventually cause further injury through splintering of the locked bones and other complications.

Our Buttafuoco & Associates Northern New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys warn that this can have a devastating impact on quality of life, impeding the ability to complete everyday activities, and require ongoing medical treatments, including surgery to replace the cartilage or a total shoulder replacement.

Pain Pumps and Medical Malpractice

Our medical malpractice lawyers serving Northern New Jersey warn us that the legal issues surrounding pain pumps and chondrolysis are murky. After several studies highlighted the relatively new concern, the Food and Drug Administration issued a safety warning in 2009. The FDA reviewed more than 30 separate reports from healthcare professionals of the development of PAGCL in patients who had been administered pain medication through a pump for 48 hours or more.

The FDA reached the conclusion that these injuries were a result of the improper use of these pain pumps by the attending physicians and explained that they had not approved the use of such pumps to be used continuously as a postoperative infusion, specifically to the joint itself. In these cases, more than half of the patients who had been treated with the pain pump developed serious injuries which required further surgery.

While the FDA stated that they had not approved the pumps for infusion in the joint, legal challenges stated that the injuries were a result of manufacturers marketing their pumps to physicians for uses that had not been approved by the FDA. During the early days of shoulder pain pumps, the FDA approved the use of certain pain pumps to be used after shoulder surgery to deliver pain medication directly to the shoulder tissue that had been affected by the operation. However, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, the manufacturers of shoulder pain pumps began approaching physicians with the suggestion that the pain pumps be used to deliver medication directly to the actual shoulder joint itself.

Today, shoulder pain pumps are still used, though skilled physicians no longer use them directly on the joint. Despite this, it is still possible to be injured by one of these pumps, especially if it is misused. If you experience pain or other issues after using a shoulder pain pump, it may be in your best interest to contact a Northern New Jersey medical malpractice attorney.

Do I Have a Malpractice Case?

If you experienced chondrolysis, we at Buttafuoco & Associates suggest that you get in touch with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Northern New Jersey. According to the FDA’s follow-up, 91 percent of the reported cases of complications, patients were administered an intra-articular postoperative infusion of bupivacaine. This was not an FDA-approved procedure, which may mean that the treatment constituted a breach of care on the part of your physician, or, given the marketing by the pump manufacturers, it constitutes a product liability case.

To see if you have a case, call 1-800-NOW-HURT to get in touch with Buttafuoco & Associates for a free consultation. Chondrolysis can be devastating, and you shouldn’t pay the price for medical mistakes.


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