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Opioid-related workers' compensation claims drop in California

The opioid epidemic has far-reaching effects and is changing the way that physicians prescribe medicines. As researchers, policy analysts and professionals scramble to find solutions to combat the epidemic, some agencies are implementing policies to try to reduce the numbers of addicted persons. One way that people are combating the opioid epidemic is by reducing the number of long-term opioid prescriptions for injured workers on workers' compensation. Numbers are dropping all over the country, including a small but significant drop in California, a recent study shows. 

Per a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), California dropped the frequency of claims for longer-term opioid prescriptions by one to two percentage points. However, overall, the state has higher than average amounts of claims with opioid prescriptions despite the recent reduction. The study also found that workers were receiving less monitoring while they were prescribed opiates. Examples of the type of needed monitoring are psychological evaluations and drug testing. 

Unfortunately, while opioids can help an injured worker deal with pain, research shows that long-term use can lead to addiction, increased disability and death. The study was based on an analysis of more than 400,00 workers' comp claims. It was designed to help policymakers become aware of opioid prescribing policies in their state and to get an idea of what policies are currently being used to combat opioid addiction. 

In California, workers who are injured are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Although policies for medical treatment of injured workers may be changing, the benefits remain the same. Any person who is hurt on the job is entitled to benefits to provide income while they are not able to work. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can be a helpful tool for people who need to file an insurance claim. 

Source: insurancejournal.com, "Several States See Drop in Opioid-Related Workers' Compensation Claims: WCRI", Aug. 4, 2017

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