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New York ranks high for long-term opioid use with injured workers

A new report says that New York is second in the nation in terms of long-term opioid abuse among injured workers. The report, from the Workers Compensation Research Institute, found that 14 percent of non-surgical workers compensation claims in New York were longer-term users of narcotics. That ranks New York just behind Louisiana, with 17 percent, and ahead of Pennsylvania and Texas, with 11 percent each.

Opioids are among the most-commonly prescribed painkillers for workers who suffer work-related injury. According to a spokesperson with the Workers Compensation Research Institute, approximately 80 percent of injured workers who receive any kind of prescribed medication are prescribed drugs that include opioids. He said it’s not uncommon for those workers to take the opioids for six months or a year. According to the spokesperson, among those in New York who take opioids, one in seven are still taking the drugs six months later. He said that in most states, only one in fifteen or one in twenty take the drugs for such a long period of time.

New York is taking steps to curb the problem. Last year, the state passed a law to update the Prescription Monitoring Program by adopting electronic prescriptions and a real-time prescription monitoring registry. A pending bill would require the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to create new educational materials that would help health care providers better recognize addiction symptoms and prevent drug misuse. Another bill would create the State Chronic Pain Management Education and Training Council, which would advance the treatment of chronic pain through improved continuing education for health care providers.

Drugs prescribed to treat serious and chronic pain can sometimes have dangerous side effects, including addictive qualities. Workers who suffer injuries on the job may be at risk for addiction problems stemming from the drugs prescribed to treat their pain. An attorney with experience in workplace compensation claims could help an injured worker obtain financial compensation to receive care from a medical professional who knows how to properly treat severe pain.

Source: Insurance Journal, “New York, Pennsylvania Rank High for Opioids Among Injured Workers“, Young Ha, May 20, 2013

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