The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has been seeing a noticeable decline in the number of opioid painkiller prescriptions written for injured workers as part of a workers’ comp benefits package. The organization created a study that compared workers’ compensation opioid prescriptions in 25 states and focusing on two 2-year periods of time, the last group ending in March 2014.
From the sample group of states, it was clear that opioid prescriptions were dropping, many states averaging about 15% decline throughout the studied years. Some states say a drop of over 30% and Ohio, which chimed in but did not get researched, claims to have a 40%+ drop in opioid prescriptions included in workers’ comp benefits. Only four of the 25 states saw rises, with Wisconsin being the greatest at around 18%. What is causing workers’ compensation groups and insurers to steer away from opioids?
Inherent Addiction Dangers & Potential Lawsuits
Opioid painkillers are facing a lot of heat and are under many skeptical microscopes. Out of all the drugs and narcotics in the country, opioids cause more fatal overdoses and lead to addictions more than any other. There is very clearly a danger to the drugs when they are abused or prescribed poorly. Insurers who represent workers’ compensation packages are likely stepping away from opioids until more research is done just so they can avoid being sued if a user become addicted or harmed.
The complication of all this is that there is not enough research to indicate that workers’ compensation beneficiaries are suffering due to their opioid prescriptions. This healthy dose of caution and the decision to reduce opioid prescriptions could potentially be hurting injured workers that feel serious pain daily due to a workplace injury. As contradictory as it might seem, it could very well turn out that reducing opioid prescriptions in workers’ comp packages actually did more harm than good. But, as of 2016, the research hasn’t been completed and the unofficial jury is still out.
For more information regarding workers’ compensation rights and benefits, you can contact Chestnut & Beller. Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Cobb County would be happy to tell you more during a free consultation. Just call 770.285.5542.