Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Opioid Abuse ReformFebruary 20, 2017
In response to the ongoing, widespread opioid epidemic in this country, reform efforts have been put into place that aim to curb the abuse of prescription opioids used for pain management. This has had a major impact on Workers’ Compensation claims over the years. To address questions regarding the effectiveness of these efforts, the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) recently published a study entitled, “Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids, 3rd Edition.” The results revealed that there was a noticeable decrease in the amount of opioids prescribed per Workers’ Compensation claim in the majority of the states studied.
The study analyzed trends in opioid prescribing patterns across 25 states, comparing the amount of opioids prescribed per claim over two 24-month time periods. In the majority of the states studied, there was a decrease in the amount of opioids received by injured workers. In six of those states, the reductions were statistically significant. According to the authors of the study, the reductions in opioid prescriptions coincided with state reforms including prescription drug monitoring programs and the implementation of new treatment guidelines and drug formularies.
Highlights of the Study
Researchers examined data from over 330,000 nonsurgical Workers’ Compensation claims that had a minimum of seven days of lost work and received at least one prescription pain medication. The report included data from 25 states, looking at trends in opioid use and prescribing patterns. The research focused on claims from 2010 through 2012, but included prescriptions through 2014. Researchers found the following results:
- In the majority of the states studied, 60 to 80 percent of injured workers received opioid pain medications.
- Of the states studied, Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania had the highest average amounts of opioids received by injured workers.
- While Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri did see a rise in the average amount of opioids per claim during the study period, they had fewer opioids per claim than the median state upon completion of the study.
- Of the claims that involved opioids, up to nine percent of the injured workers studied also used benzodiazepines. In 30-40 percent of claims, there was simultaneous use of opioids and muscle relaxants.
These findings, as well as reports by pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, suggest that the cost of prescription opiates in Workers’ Compensation claims may be going down. According to Express Scripts, overall spending for opioids has decreased by close to five percent and use has gone down by close to 11 percent.
In March 2016, in response to the opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines for prescribing opioid medications for the treatment of chronic pain.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of the Opioid Epidemic
If you have suffered an injury at work, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will protect your rights and ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate Workers’ Compensation lawyers, all us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.