Over the last decade, the abuse of prescription drugs has reached alarming levels. From 1997-2007, prescriptions for opioid pain relievers has jumped by 400% according to the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Data from the survey also shows that deaths from overdosing on prescription pain killers in 2007 exceeded those of heroin AND cocaine combined.
Many of these prescriptions are issued to injured workers through their workers’ compensation claims. However, the issue has received little attention which is sad considering the extent of the problem in the general population.
To try and address this issue, a special session will be held at the IAIABC annual convention to explore the human and financial costs of prescription drug abuse and workers’ compensation.
On his Managed Care Matters blog, Joe Paduda says it is “unknown how many workers’ comp claimants are dying from opioid overdoses… I’m thinking the unknown will not remain unknown for much longer…Here’s hoping we get to solutions pretty quickly.” Mr. Paduda will be leading the upcoming session taking place in Madison, Wisconsin.
In addition to the consequences of narcotics abuse and how certain aspects of the system encourage abuse, the session will also examine Washington State’s successful efforts to curtail this problem.
Dr. Gary Franklin of the Washington Department of Labor & Industries will share results of his state’s program during the session, which established strict dosing guidelines and regulations for the administration of prescription pain killers. Dr. Franklin will share results of their efforts, including addiction rates and costs for the prescriptions themselves.
Drug addiction is a very serious problem affecting millions of Americans. These issues can cause major problems in the workers’ comp system if they’re not addressed. This session at the IAIABC convention next month is a good first step toward addressing the problem.
IAIABC is short for the International Association for Industrial Advisory Boards and Commissions. Their annual conference will take place August 22-25 in Madison, Wisconsin. Workers’ comp agencies from Colorado and around the nation converge on this event to discuss current issues facing injured workers.