I-Flow On-Q Pain Pump Lawsuits Spike in July 2009

The number of new shoulder pain pump lawsuits filed against I-Flow Corp, makers of the On-Q PainBuster, surged last month, as many plaintiffs filed claims prior to the two year anniversary of the publication of a study linking use of the pain pumps to a painful and debilitating loss of cartilage, known as shoulder chondrolysis.

The IFlow OnQ Pain Buster is one of several types of shoulder pain pumps that have been linked to permanent loss of shoulder cartilage when used to deliver pain medication directly into the shoulder joint following arthroscopic surgery. Other companies make similar pumps, such as Breg, Inc., Stryker Corp. DePuy, Inc., Smith & Nephew, Inc. and DJO, Inc.

A study first published in the July 2007 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that intra-articular use of the shoulder pumps to deliver a combination of medications, can cause the progressive destruction of cartilage, formally known as post-arthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis or PAGCL.

Did You Know?

Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

In recent years, many doctors have prescribed the use of a shoulder pain pumps following arthroscopic surgery instead of oral pain medications. The disposable pumps are put in place when the patient is discharged, and remain in place for 2 to 3 days for pain management.

During the months after use of the shoulder pumps, some patients have developed increasing pain, clicking, popping, grinding and decreased range of motion caused by a loss of shoulder cartilage. The damage is irreversible and in many cases results in the need for a total shoulder replacement.

According to a second quarter earnings report released by I-Flow this week, the company saw a sharp increase in the number of lawsuits filed against them in July 2009. The company currently faces 212 claims, up from 69 I-Flow On-Q pain pump lawsuits reported following the first quarter.

“[I-Flow Corporation] believes that plaintiff attorneys are rapidly filing claim because of their evaluation that the statute of limitations is expiring in many jurisdictions,” wrote the company in their earnings report released August 10. “Many of these filed lawsuits name two or more pain pump manufacturers in addition to [I-Flow] as defendants in the same lawsuit, presumably because plaintiffs attorneys have not yet determined the manufacturer of the pump used in the surgical procedure.”

Last year the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied a petition filed by a number of plaintiffs that called for all federal pain pump lawsuits to be consolidated and centralized for pretrial litigation in one district. The panel stated that the number of different manufacturers and pain medications involved made such consolidation inappropriate, so all shoulder pump lawsuits are currently proceeding as individual claims in various state and federal district courts throughout the country.

In June 2009, Breg, Inc. was successful in getting one pain pump lawsuit dismissed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. After excluding testimony from one of the Plaintiff’s witnesses in the case, the judge dismissed the lawsuit weeks before trial was set to begin, finding that the Plaintiff could not establish that his shoulder injury was caused by use of the pump. However, the decision was specific to this one case, and other judges presiding over shoulder pump lawsuits are not legally bound to follow the decision.

Image Credit: |

14 Comments

  • RossJuly 13, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    HI YESTERDAY ON THE 12TH OF 2022 I HAD HURNIA SURGERY ON MY LEFT SIDE , THEY INSTALLED A ON- Q' PAIN RELIEF SYSTEM, OBOVE GROAN AREA BRAND WAS CALLED, AVANOS .I WAS HAVING TREMENDOUS PAIN REALLY BAD I AM 68 YEARS OLD ALL DAY AND THROUGH OUT THE NIGHT AND THIS MORNING AS I SPEAK I CALLED THE ANSWERING SERVICE OF MY DOCTOR AND TOLD THEME THAT I WAS IN ALOT OF SERIOUS PAIN SINCE YESTERDAY AFTER HA[Show More]HI YESTERDAY ON THE 12TH OF 2022 I HAD HURNIA SURGERY ON MY LEFT SIDE , THEY INSTALLED A ON- Q' PAIN RELIEF SYSTEM, OBOVE GROAN AREA BRAND WAS CALLED, AVANOS .I WAS HAVING TREMENDOUS PAIN REALLY BAD I AM 68 YEARS OLD ALL DAY AND THROUGH OUT THE NIGHT AND THIS MORNING AS I SPEAK I CALLED THE ANSWERING SERVICE OF MY DOCTOR AND TOLD THEME THAT I WAS IN ALOT OF SERIOUS PAIN SINCE YESTERDAY AFTER HAVING SURGERY AND THAT A ON Q PAIN RELIEF SYSTEM WAS INSTALLED AND INSERTED INTO MY STOMACH AREA WHICH HAD A NUMING AGENT THAT NUMS THEE AREA AND TOLD THEME THAT IT WAS NOT WORKING PROPERLY AND THAT THE PUMP WAS NOT WORKING WHAT SO EVER AND TO WAIT ON THE PHONE AND WOULD REACH MY DOCTOR WHICH THEY DID AND MY DOCTOR MR ANDRA SPOKE TO ME OVER THE PHONE I TOLD HIM WHAT HAD HAPPENED REGARDING THAT I WAS IN ALOT OF PAINE AND THAT THE ON Q RELIEF SYSTEM WASN'T PUMPING WHAT SO EVER HE TOLD ME THAT MAYBE I KINKED IT MYSELF WHEN I WAS A SLEEP AND DID NOT KNOW IT AND THAT I SHOULD TAKE OUT THE ON Q PUMP MYSELF AND DETASH IT MYSELF THEN HE HUNG UP ON ME VERY ON PROFESSIONAL ON HIS PART IVE GOT MORE TO SAY PS HE DID TELL ME THAT SOME TIMES THEE PUMPS ARE DEEFFECTED AS WELL MY PHONE NUMBER IS 213-858-2159

  • JosieMarch 8, 2022 at 2:11 am

    I had tkr surgery on my left knee in September 2021 and it was awesome. Everything went great. My doctor was amazed with the outcome. So I decided I wanted to get my right knee replaced and four months later January 25, 2022 I did. The right knee went horribly wrong. I had the On-Q pain relief ball and hose attached to my leg with a catheter and I didn't know what the heck it was. It wasn't used o[Show More]I had tkr surgery on my left knee in September 2021 and it was awesome. Everything went great. My doctor was amazed with the outcome. So I decided I wanted to get my right knee replaced and four months later January 25, 2022 I did. The right knee went horribly wrong. I had the On-Q pain relief ball and hose attached to my leg with a catheter and I didn't know what the heck it was. It wasn't used on my left knee so I didn't understand why I needed it. From the first day the pain was so bad I couldn't believe it. I kept telling the nurses and my doctor that it feels different and it hurts so bad to try and stand and sit down. I was sent home with the pain pump and the next day it was bleeding out so when my in home care came I complained and complained that it didn't feel right and very painful in the Area of the pain pump. I was rushed to the E.R. and ended up with sepsis in the one week after my tkr because of the On-Q pain pump. The pain was a 10!!! I was given antibiotics in both arms through an IV and was told I came in just in time. That sepsis spreads very fast. I remained in the hospital for several day and came home. To this day 6 weeks after surgery I'm having pain and reddish bruising in that area where the pain pump catheter was inserted. I don't know what to do. I'm worried and concerned that it's going to cause long term problems.

  • BillJuly 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I had left shoulder surgery in 2001. A pain pump was inserted into the joint space to administer pain medication. Five surgeries later including a total replacement I am being sent to San Francisco for a reverse replacement. I can not prove by Medical records that the pain pump was because, according to the doctors office and hospital, the records were destroyed. I was told the records are only sa[Show More]I had left shoulder surgery in 2001. A pain pump was inserted into the joint space to administer pain medication. Five surgeries later including a total replacement I am being sent to San Francisco for a reverse replacement. I can not prove by Medical records that the pain pump was because, according to the doctors office and hospital, the records were destroyed. I was told the records are only saved for seven years. What can I do to have the Manufacturer held accountable?

  • connieOctober 19, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I had surgery on june 27 2016 surgery went great!!! But afterwards it went to hell in a hand basket....not my surgeons fault in my opinion but anesthesiologist he is the one who inserted the cath for the on-q pump...the pump comprised my breathing so bad that i ended up in 3 hopsitals in less than 24 hrs....my daughter contacted on-q they told her i fell in the 1 % of patients that this happens t[Show More]I had surgery on june 27 2016 surgery went great!!! But afterwards it went to hell in a hand basket....not my surgeons fault in my opinion but anesthesiologist he is the one who inserted the cath for the on-q pump...the pump comprised my breathing so bad that i ended up in 3 hopsitals in less than 24 hrs....my daughter contacted on-q they told her i fell in the 1 % of patients that this happens too....hmmm i thought for sure i was going to meet my maker for no one in my area knew or even gave the pump a question....on the 2 nd day my other daughter whom is a nurse took me to my family dr and he sent me to another hospital for more test looking for pneumonia, or blood clots found neither whilie driving there my oldest daughter called and said my anesthesiologist said to pull out the pump right away.....what a nightmare was 30 miles from home no pain medication with me so we waited till i got home again...daughter removed the Cather on ON-Q with in 45 mins i was breathing normal!!!! now i have hospital bills everywhere.....still shoulder pain which now sometimes pops .....went thru horrible rehab which after 17 weeks i just quit....I believe ON-Q is responsible and also the anesthesiologist...NOT MY SURGEON....IN MY OPINION HE DID HIS JOB GREAT....BUT SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR MY BILL'S WHICH INSURANCE DID NOT COVER ALL ....PLUS MY ANGUISH AND PAIN.....

  • sandyApril 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I had an On-Q pump for surgery to repair a torn ligament in my ankle. It was the bag that I carried around my waist. After the cast and walking boot came off, and I started weight-bearing on the foot, I noticed something odd. After 5 months it still hasnt changed. I feel like I'm walking on golf balls or lots of smashed marshmallows, on the ball of my foot, and between my toes. The foot is also se[Show More]I had an On-Q pump for surgery to repair a torn ligament in my ankle. It was the bag that I carried around my waist. After the cast and walking boot came off, and I started weight-bearing on the foot, I noticed something odd. After 5 months it still hasnt changed. I feel like I'm walking on golf balls or lots of smashed marshmallows, on the ball of my foot, and between my toes. The foot is also semi-numb. Its hard to balance. Doc said maybe the pain Doc nicked another nerve when inserting the little tubes into the correct nerve. Doc said if not betterin 2 year, probably never come bsck. Wow...I was much better off before the surgery! Does anyone else have residual numbess or odd "feelings" in places unaffected by the surgery?

  • chrisAugust 9, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Ihad left shoulder painfulnful and some days I have a very hard time with moving my shoulder and I have permanent range of motion loss in my shoulder. I believe the pump I had I flow pain pump. I have no question that the pump caused more damage that is irreversible and causes me pain everyday.

  • WCPFebruary 23, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Marita, My fiance WCP also went into acute liver failure after the I-Flow On-Q pain pump was administered after hernia surgery. I am interested in learning more about your incident.

  • MaritaJuly 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I went into acute liver failure after receiving IQ pain pump. Is there anyone else who has experienced this? My doctor said he had a flashback of other Doctors stating similar patients experiencing this after IQ pain pump. But I cannot find anyone who has...

  • LeahNovember 4, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I had knee replacements, the right knee was done in October 2009 and the day I was scheduled to leave the hospital I was taken back to the OR for the IQ Pain Pump to be placed in my femur to deliver medication for 72 hours while I was at home. My husband took me home at approximately 5:00 p.m. that evening with the pump in place. I have had severe pain in my leg and knee every since. Several da[Show More]I had knee replacements, the right knee was done in October 2009 and the day I was scheduled to leave the hospital I was taken back to the OR for the IQ Pain Pump to be placed in my femur to deliver medication for 72 hours while I was at home. My husband took me home at approximately 5:00 p.m. that evening with the pump in place. I have had severe pain in my leg and knee every since. Several days later I was walking with my walker and I heard a loud popping noise and the pain in my femur was so severe I fell to the floor. My husband took me straight to my orthopedist and he took me back into surgery approximately two weeks later and told me I had a small tear in a ligament. After all I have heard and read regarding the pain pump I now believe it is what caused the tear. I understand the medication becomes toxic after a while.

  • lauralOctober 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Bad apples REALLY ? when surgeons get the WRONG information from a supposed reputable sales force from a supposed reputable medical device Corp, it would be a shame for the PEOPLE that are now suffering because of this device that they only get a I'm so sorry for your lifelong pain, have a nice day. Oh the 3 folks in Oregon just got that, How would feel if you as a surgeon had hurt the people you[Show More]Bad apples REALLY ? when surgeons get the WRONG information from a supposed reputable sales force from a supposed reputable medical device Corp, it would be a shame for the PEOPLE that are now suffering because of this device that they only get a I'm so sorry for your lifelong pain, have a nice day. Oh the 3 folks in Oregon just got that, How would feel if you as a surgeon had hurt the people you were trying to help????

  • Dr. TSeptember 11, 2010 at 3:20 am

    I am very sorry to hear about the experiences patients have had with the ON-Q pain pumps. I am an adult reconstruction specialist and began using the ON-Q Painbuster catheters in the wound only (not within the joint) following knee replacement surgeries and have had amazing results. I will say that my sales representative was excellent and really understood the proper indications for use of this p[Show More]I am very sorry to hear about the experiences patients have had with the ON-Q pain pumps. I am an adult reconstruction specialist and began using the ON-Q Painbuster catheters in the wound only (not within the joint) following knee replacement surgeries and have had amazing results. I will say that my sales representative was excellent and really understood the proper indications for use of this product including safe doses of the various local anesthetics and duration of use. By no means is this product to be used fro prolonged periods. My patients generally went home with on ball which lasted about four days. I was informed that this local delivery gives excellent pain relief and that intra-articular or femoral nerve blockade was not necessary. It is unfortunate when the surgeon does not acknowledge severe pain as mentioned by Lou. This is absolutely not normal and should be addressed immediately. Also, use of such catheters for 3 weeks is inappropriate. It is unfortunate when surgeons fail to follow recommended uses. My sales representative explained the indications very clearly to me, so I believe some of the cases that have developed are related to improper use of the product. It would be a shame to throw the baby out with the bath water, because my experience with this product has been great, and the patients loved it. They were all able to walk without a cane by three weeks after surgery (even when both knees were replaced at the same time), and all had excellent range of motion starting the day of surgery. One of my patients even honored me through the hospital's "Guardian Angel" program for the excellent experience she had with her knee replacement. I do not want to see this product disappear from the market because of a few bad apples using ti inappropriately.

  • staceyMay 28, 2010 at 2:23 am

    i hadsurgery in june 03 and had on set pain it was not tell years latter when i no longer had use in my shoulder that i found out i needed a full replacement i think noone should have to go tho any of this it is all wrong you should look up and read what the fda wrote and said to said co.

  • LouSeptember 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I had Shoulder surgery in June 2008. Was fitted with a OnQ pain pump and sent home. My shoulder has developed SEVERE and constant pain since and everyday is a pure nightmare. MMy pain is unresonable. The orthopedic surgeon doesn't seem to be too concerned after several calls and appointments to pursue this. Has given me no answers and I have had several injections to curb the pain at the sight. I[Show More]I had Shoulder surgery in June 2008. Was fitted with a OnQ pain pump and sent home. My shoulder has developed SEVERE and constant pain since and everyday is a pure nightmare. MMy pain is unresonable. The orthopedic surgeon doesn't seem to be too concerned after several calls and appointments to pursue this. Has given me no answers and I have had several injections to curb the pain at the sight. I'm not a complainer or a pursuer of attorneys, but, I feel that something is definitely wrong here.

  • MichelleSeptember 14, 2009 at 1:48 am

    My brother had hernia surgery June & the I-Flow ON-Q Catheter inserted in his hip for 3 weeks and is still complain of pain and popping just started a few weeks ago! Anyway heard on TV something about problem with the ON-Q. We were wondering if his pump could be what has caused is on going pain and poping we see inthe above information all that was mention is shoulder?

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Third Track of Camp Lejeune Illnesses and Diseases To Be Selected For Case Specific Workup
Third Track of Camp Lejeune Illnesses and Diseases To Be Selected For Case Specific Workup (Posted today)

The U.S. government has proposed claims of esophageal cancer, miscarriage, dental side effects, and hypersensitivity skin disorder be used for a third batch of potential Camp Lejeune bellwether lawsuits.