MarketWatch is reporting a recent study that found opioid use increased length of disability following a work accident while offering questionable benefits to those injured on the job.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Workers Compensation Research Institute in Cambridge, Mass., the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, N.H. and the Department of Economics at the University of California, Irvine. It found long-term opioid use roughly tripled employer costs for temporary disability benefits, compared to those suffering similar injuries who were not prescribed opioids. Researchers found no evidence that opioid prescriptions were beneficial to injured workers.
Opioid Addiction & California Work Injuries
San Diego workers' compensation attorneys continue to see the growing impact of the nationwide opioid crisis come to bear on those recovering from work injuries. In fact, many of those who turn to heroin, fentanyl and other opioid derivatives were first prescribed legitimate prescription narcotics to deal with pain in the aftermath of a work injury.
Some argue that doctors are too liberal in prescribing such medications, and there are a number of programs that push doctors to prescribe non-addictive alternatives. Another issue is that pain (or addiction) and lack of access to legal pain medication is turning people to the more dangerous black market, where alternatives are unregulated and too often lethal concoctions of unknown substances.
Experienced injury lawyers will take these studies under advisement, while understanding they too may be pushing an agenda. Many such studies are backed by pharmaceutical giants or employers and insurance companies looking to lower costs.
Opioid Treatment and Workers' Compensation
Pain management is an important aspect of medical care for many work injuries, and because of the way the workers' compensation system in California is set up, the employer's insurance company has a great deal of say in the types of medications that are prescribed. Insurance companies often favor opioids because they are less expensive than alternative painkillers. Unfortunately, this can result in addiction and other negative consequences for injured workers.
More recently, there has been significant backlash against opioid prescriptions as the nationwide opioid crisis continues. One of the unfortunate consequences of the crisis is patients in real pain with legitimate need for prescription painkillers often have the most trouble getting treatment. Doctors, employers and insurance companies are now too quick to blame addiction or malingering when an employee fails to return to work. Thus, injured workers are both blamed and victimized.
When it comes to recovering from a work injury, experienced workers' compensation law firms offer their clients a wealth of information and benefits. Often, a thorough review of your case will discover missed benefits and known treatment alternatives, or may even flag anomalies in your rehabilitation or care. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible following a work accident in San Diego can give you the best chance of making a full physical and financial recovery.