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Workers' comp program trying to curb addiction in Ohio

Ohio workers do not go to work expecting to sustain workplace injuries. Unfortunately, workplace accidents do take place and workers get injured, for which they receive medical treatment. Sometimes however, the medicine prescribed to injured workers can cause more problems instead of recovery. According to one study that looked at workers' compensation claims in 25 states, of the 337,000 claims considered, between 55 and 85 percent of workers who missed seven days or more of work were given at least one opioid injection. And this has brought forth a new problem among workers-opioid addiction.

Injured workers, like many others, are dealing with pain in the aftermath of an accident and are given opioids such as Vicodin and Oxytocin to deal with it. In fact one survey found that prescriptions for injured workers amounted to 13 percent of total opioid pharmacy costs in 2015. These are people from all walks of life, who have been injured and receive this medication through their workers' compensation program. As states oversee these programs and monitor the system that provides medical care to injured workers, it is the state that needs to take some action to stem this addiction. Ohio has taken some steps to do just that.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has taken a two-fold approach to the problem. First, they are stemming the prescription of opioid medicine. Second, they are helping those who have become hooked to the medicine. The new rules allow reimbursements for opioid prescriptions to be denied if it's believed the physician is overprescribing medicine or is not following best practices and treatment will be provided to those who have become hooked on the medicine.

Workplace accidents can lead to severe injuries that can take time and medicine to heal and this is not to say that injured workers do not deserve strong acting painkillers. However, it should not be at the expense of their health. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help evaluate an injured workers' claim to determine how the new rules affect them.

Source: Ohio.com, "Workers' comp programs fight addiction among injured employees," Bob Salsberg, April 10, 2017

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