Workers Compensation and the Opioid Crisis–
Opioids claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016 – leading to a drug crisis of epic proportions. Since Opioid are commonly prescribed for the pain associated with work-related injuries, this Opioid Crisis also impacts the landscape of workers compensation in California and across the country.
The average supply of an opioid prescription increased 33% from 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015. And the amount of opioids prescribed per capita in 2015 was almost three times as high as in 1999, according to the CDC.
President Trump recently instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a “public health emergency” – however, he did not go so far to declare “a national emergency”, which would have allocated federal funding to address the issue.
Opioid Usage in Workers Compensation Claims
Recent research from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute found that 70% of closed workers compensation claims in the state include cash “set-asides” for future pain prescriptions. This demonstrates the pervasive use of – and often need for – pain medication for workplace injuries.
In 2017 the workers compensation industry began to try to reduce the prescription of pain killers – in an effort to help diminish issues arising from long-term use of addictive medicine.
But the problem of long-term prescriptions and opioid weaning in workers compensation cases has no easy solution. Workplace injuries can be extremely painful, leading to the need for effective long-term pain management solutions.
The top five workplace injuries are: slips, trips and falls; muscle strains (including back injuries); being hit by falling objects; repetitive strain injury; and crashes and collisions. All of these can result in painful conditions that require strong pain medication.
Workers Compensation Claims Review for Pain Drugs
To address this problem, claims management programs and workers comp formularies are mandating more stringent utilization reviews of drugs in workers comp cases. When a healthcare provider prescribes Opioids and other addictive pain relief medications, they must essential “jumping through more hoops” than Doctors who prescribe the same drugs for general (non-workers comp) injuries.
As a result, nearly half of the states included in a study on opioid usage in workers compensation cases have seen a reduction in the both the frequency and the strength of powerful pain medications given to injured workers. (Workers Compensation Research Institute).
If you are being administered Opioids or other addictive pain relief medications for a work related injury, you can likely expect reductions in the amount and strength of prescriptions. Your healthcare providers has an important responsibility to offer safer and more effective pain management options, while reducing your risks of opioid addiction and overdose.
Orange County Workers Compensation Attorneys
If you were injured at your place of employment, and have questions about your workers compensation benefits or covered medical treatments, our skilled Workers Compensation attorneys will be able to help you.
Our Workers Compensation Attorneys have helped thousands of individuals across Orange County and Southern California understand their benefits and obtain the Workers Compensation they deserve.