Your Recovering Employees Are Being Dangerously
Physicians over-prescribing opioids has led to an
increase in indemnity losses, with no corresponding overall reduction in Comp
Hardly news, but worthy of repeating, there’s a critical
problem with the impact of narcotics addiction in the Workers’ Comp system;
physicians over-prescribing opioids has led to an increase in indemnity losses,
including narcotic overdose and deaths, with no corresponding overall reduction
in Comp loss history. Masking symptoms with narcotics is not returning employees
to work and you’re paying the price.
Improve your Comp experience and avoid bad claim
outcomes by requiring your Work Comp adjuster to report on his review of
claimant’s prescription history and by your assertion that proper medical
guidelines are followed by prescribing physicians. State Comp regulators have
taken notice of the problem. But it’s up to you to be vigilant with your Comp
insurer. Regulators aren’t capable of policing the problem. There are guidelines
for physicians that you can assert to your insurer even if the venue state has
no guidelines itself.
Colorado’s Work Comp guidelines are very stringent,
requiring all patients placed on long term and chronically abused opioids to
undergo a formal psychosocial and physical evaluation by two separate
specialists (pain management or physical medicine), and requiring a written
informed consent and an opioid contract for all patients. The clear intent is
that opioids are to be used only after other treatments have failed, and almost
never if the patient is a high risk for abuse. Urine drug screening is a control
method strongly encouraged in all patients on opioids.
You should bring this up with your claims handlers. A
good discussion point is a survey (see results)
prepared in August 2011 by the Western Occupational Medical Association.