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Unnecessary Use of Painkillers Increases Cost and Delay of Workplace Injuries

Major injuries, whether they occur at work or at home, can be incredibly painful. If you’ve had any kind of bad pain, you certainly understand how pain medications can provide immediate relief.  Narcotic painkillers, or opioids, are one type of pain medication that’s become increasingly popular over the years.

Many of these drugs (…like OxyContin) are very powerful and do carry some risk though, especially if they’re used too frequently or for too long.

In fact, excessive use of narcotic painkillers can dramatically extend your recovery time.

A 2008 study from the California Workers Compensation Institute (CWCI) confirms this fact…injured workers who received high doses of opioid painkillers for injuries like a back strain were out of work three times longer than with those who sustained similar injuries but took fewer doses.

Commenting for a story that originally appeared in the New York Times, head of research at CWCI, Alex Swedlow says “What we see is an association between the greater use of opioids and delayed recovery from workplace injuries.”

Side effects from these powerful drugs can lead to lethargy and drowsiness…higher doses can lead to addiction and a whole host of serious side effects, even death.

Many experts contend that opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet and Duragesic are used way too much and lead to many of these problems. For example, drugs like these are prescribed to treat common problems like back pain but have little proof of long-term benefits.

According to insurance industry data, narcotic prescription as a share of all drugs used to treat common workplace injuries jumped 63-percent between 2001 and 2008. In California, narcotic painkillers represented 30-percent of all prescription costs in 2010, which is double the 15-percent they were in 2002.

Many workers’ comp agencies, including Colorado’s, are struggling to figure out how this trend can be reversed. It’s hoped that new pain treatment guidelines issued by the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation can help.

Other states, namely New York, Texas and Washington, are considering similar guidelines. Many insurers are also working with physicians to ensure the right amount of narcotic painkillers is prescribed.

If you’re injured on-the-job, it’s important you return to work as soon as possible. Workers’ comp does not pay your full wage while you’re out.

Using narcotic painkillers excessively can extend your recovery time…in worse cases, it can lead to full-scale addiction, a condition that will certainly wrought you and your family if it isn’t addressed.

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Categories: Workers' Compensation
Tags: Colorado job injuryColorado workers' compensation lawsconsumer warningsdisabilitydrug testingon the job injurywork injury benefitsworkers' comp benefitsworkers' comp insuranceworkplace accidents
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