Chronic pain is one of the most common claims made to workers’ compensation carriers. There are often a range of treatments, including physical and occupational therapy and medication.
But it’s the medication part that has raised concern over the last two decades. In particular, the prescription of opioid drugs. These are medications that relieve pain by lowering the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain. Some of the most common include Oxycontine (oxycodone), Percocet, Vicodin (hydrocodone), morphine and fentanyl.
These drugs do have a legitimate purpose for those who have suffered a work-related injury. However, problems have been known to arise when opioids are used for long-term treatment. A recent report by WorkCompCentral revealed employees who are taking a medium-to-high dose of opioids for a year or more experience a death rate of 1.75 per 1,000 patients. That may not sound like a lot, but let’s compare that to the death rate for logging and fishing (the riskiest jobs in the U.S.). Those workers face an annual death rate of 1 worker for every 1,000. Opioid users are almost twice as likely to die. Continue reading