According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 million private industry workers and over half a million public sector workers were injured in 2015.
In the same year, workers’ comp insurers spent $1.5 billion on opioids, with injured workers accounting for 13 percent of their total opioid pharmacy costs in the U.S.
In a study of several thousand workers’ compensation claims across a swath of states, research indicates 55 to 85 percent of injured workers that missed a week or more of work received at least one opioid prescription. Long term opioid use has been reported as high as 1 in every 6 workers in some states surveyed and as low as 1 in 30.
Workers injured on the job who are prescribed opioids to deal with the pain sometimes succumb to a cycle of addiction to these powerful pain killers that is difficult to break. In response, many states across the nation are now working through their respective workers’ compensation programs to stem the over prescribing of opioids and setting up programs to help those already hooked.
Although the efforts to curb the unnecessary prescribing of opioid pain medication leading to addiction is in the best interests of many, those suffering from injuries that need help managing serious pain may run up against resistance when trying to get the medication they need approved through their workers’ comp providers.
Although the Federation of State Medical Boards revised its policy to limit opioid prescribing, they fully acknowledge that the “undertreatment of pain is recognized as a serious public health problem in itself, which compromises patients’ functional status and quality of life”.
Workers’ comp insurers and payers have a duty to evaluate injured workers case by case to determine appropriate treatments to help claimants manage their pain to include medication, occupational, physical and cognitive behavioral therapies. Anything less is a disservice to workers who are injured on the job.
If you or a family member has been denied workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to seek the help of an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyer to help you to get the treatment you need. Contact the Des Moines, Iowa workers’ compensation Law Offices of Stoltze & Stoltze PLC for help with your denied worker’s compensation claim at 515-244-1473. Free consultation.