The use of narcotics by injured workers has been on the rise in recent years. Enough workers who’ve been injured on the job are using opioid prescription painkillers that the National Safety Council (NSC) wants employers to work to ensure that their employees do not become addicted to opioids after an injury or that they have policies in place to help these patients recover with narcotics.
In fact, the problem is so rampant that the government has begun to require workers’ compensation insurers to cover treatment for medication, death benefits for families in the event of an overdose (a number that has risen to nearly 40,000 a year in the U.S. alone) and detoxification associated with opioid use.
Additionally, to combat the amount of opioids being used, officials are suggesting statewide databases that can track the number of prescriptions for opioids. These databases would be used to:
- Track who is being prescribed an abundance of opioids
- Allow for a record of the doctors who are over-prescribing (which could lead to better rates of punishing them)
- Better controls for network provider management
- Better organization and support for clinics specializing in pain management
Many of the patients who are being prescribed opioids heavily suffer from work-related back injuries like degenerative spine pathology. Research looking into degenerative spine pathology and opioid use in workers’ comp patients has recently been published in the Spine Journal.
The issue with so many doctors prescribing opioids for back pain in workers’ compensation cases is that these drugs are being prescribed for both short and long term time periods, but opioids are not recommended for long term pain management in back injury situations, namely due to their addictive qualities.
Not all workers who are injured on the job will end up suffering from a painkiller addiction; however, it can be easy to see how it happens if you’re injured and are suffering from severe pain.
If you’ve been injured at work and need legal assistance, contact Colorado workers’ compensation attorney R. Mack Babcock – recently named one of the top lawyers in Denver by 5280 magazine – to discuss your case in depth.