A study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) report cites narcotic overuse as a major national public health problem. WCRI reports, “Medical treatment guidelines recommend that patients who receive ongoing narcotics prescriptions be actively monitored by the physician using urine tests and given psychological evaluations.”
According to WCRI study, Interstate Variations in Use of Narcotics, narcotic-prescribing physicians are not monitoring use, abuse, and diversion. The study is based on nonsurgical workers compensation claims with more than seven days missed work and prescribed pain medications.(WCxKit)
In some states, WCRI found prescribed narcotic use was more likely to turn into a long-term habit. These states are: California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. WCRI looked at 2006 injuries and the subsequent prescriptions through spring of 2008.
According to the abstract, other findings include:
1. The amount of narcotics per claim was the highest in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania among the 17 states studied.
2. In the other 13 states, there were large differences in the amount of narcotics received by injured workers.
3. A higher than typical percentage of claims that received narcotics may signal overuse of narcotics for some states.
4. The proportion of nonsurgical cases with narcotics that were identified as longer-term users of narcotics was substantially higher than typical in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. (WCxKit)
5. Few longer-term users of narcotics received the recommended services for monitoring, contrary to medical guideline recommendations.
For more information, the complete report is available for purchase here.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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