In recent years, the abuse of and addiction to opioids has become a crisis, and has exploded into an epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of fatal drug overdoses (more than six out of 10), involve an opioid. And in the last 18 years, the number of fatal overdoses involving opioids – including prescription drugs and heroin – have quadrupled. It is staggering to think that 91 Americans are lost every day from an opioid overdose.
But despite these alarming statistics, there is some good news. A new study recently found that there have been significant decreases in the prevalence of longer-term dispensing of opioids to injured workers in some of the states that were studied.
The study, which was performed by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), examined trends in 26 state Workers’ Compensation systems. The study also documented the services used for managing chronic opioid therapy, including drug testing, psychological evaluation, and treatment recommended for treatment guidelines.
The study made some very helpful discoveries. It found that fewer than expected injured workers who received opioids on a longer-term basis were provided specific services that were recommended by treatment guidelines for chronic opioid management. For example, in 19 out of the 26 states that were studied, less than 10 percent of injured workers with longer-term opioids received psychological evaluations. This information can be helpful in modifying treatment plans.
The study also found that the frequency of claims that received opioids on a longer-term basis decreased by more than four percent in Kentucky and New York. The same measure decreased two to three percent in several other states. Noticeable decreases in the dispensing of opioids in some states were seen as well.
When over-prescribed or wrongly prescribed, the use of opioids to treat work-related injuries can lead to addiction and even fatality. Therefore, anytime an opioid is prescribed, the patient should be subject to responsible management by the prescriber.If you or someone you love is facing an opioid-related Workers’ Compensation claim, please call the Jeffrey S. Gross, the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer, at 215-512-1500 or 267-589-0090, or complete our online form for a free consultation. Our office is conveniently located in Philadelphia.