The Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reports the sheer number of injuries that occur in the workplace and the subsequent surgeries is one of the most common causes for opioid prescriptions in the country. Of those prescribed opioids, 16 percent of those workers continued receiving opioid medications after one year, for which the chances of addiction drastically increase. Unfortunately, statewide data from Ohio drew attention to the problem of opioid addiction when the Ohio Department of Health revealed that 2,482 Ohioans died from drug overdose.
To combat these alarming numbers, the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) implemented drug formulary, which is a preferred list of prescription drugs doctors can prescribe to injured workers. Since the drug formulary was implemented, Ohio saw a decline in the number of opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, given to injured workers and a subsequent drop in new addicts. However, now the BWC Board of Directors is turning to the workers who are already struggling with opioid addiction as a result of being prescribed pain medication for a past work injury.
Workers Addicted to Pain Medication Deserve a Chance to Return Their Lives Back to Normal
The BWC is trying to implement a new rule that will allow workers’ comp payments to cover drug addiction treatment for injured workers who became addicted to pain medication. Treatment options would include either medication or psychological counseling to help addicts recover from their opioid addiction.
Additionally, the BWC could refuse to pay for or reimburse prescription painkillers if doctors do not try alternative treatment options beforehand. Doctors will be required to use best medicinal practices to treat injured workers, such as an individual treatment plan, giving time to monitor progress and risk assessment. Doctors who fail to do so will be removed from the BWC’s list of approved providers. If approved, this rule would go into effect October 1st.
According to the CEO and workers’ compensation administrator, this rule would help ensure best practices are being complied with throughout the course of treatment so that injured workers receive proper care without having to face the life-changing consequences of opioid addiction.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a workers’ compensation law firm that helps workers who have been injured on the job in the Zanesville, Columbus and Newark areas of Ohio.