How The Opioid Crisis Is Affecting Workers Comp Claims

The opioid crisis is officially considered a national emergency. It’s reported that around 29% of people who are prescribed opioids end up misusing them.

How did this happen?


Well, the reasons are very complex, but most experts agree that because opioids are so addictive, they may not the most appropriate type of medication for pain management, particularly when this process is controlled by the patient. In a clinical setting, doctors may be able to control the dosages and prevent the patient from becoming dependent on these substances, but reality has proven that when the patient is given these drugs for personal pain management, the results are often devastating.

How does the opioid crisis affect worker’s comp claims?

Workers Comp Claims and Opioids

Opioids are commonly prescribed as a way for people to manage pain, including pain as a result of a work-related injury. One study, for instance, found that workers in rural areas, including in Missouri, are far more likely to be prescribed an opioid than their urban counterparts.

Opioids can, at times, get prescribed even before a specialist has even seen the injured worker. Upon consultation, a workers comp doctor may offer the worker an opioid prescription, and then schedule them for another consultation with a specialist for their particular injury. For workers in rural areas, however, access to specialists may be extremely limited, and the use of opioids can be prolonged extensively. And the longer you are on opioids, the more likely you are to become addicted and misuse them.

Is the Crisis Affecting Claims?

The opioid crisis has real-life impacts on the injured worker, putting their entire wellbeing at risk. Some effects of this issue can also be felt in relation to worker’s comp claims, potentially making room for even more troubles.

For instance, opioid use can delay a worker’s return to work. One study shows that workers who receive high doses of opioid painkillers stayed at home three times longer than those with similar injuries who have other pain-management medication. Additionally, the opioid crisis also has an impact on the cost of these claims. The price can go up nine times when an opioid is prescribed.

But perhaps the most concerning issue here has to do with safety. For one thing, there’s the worker’s safety. If they become addicted, they are putting their life at risk. But even if they return to work (meaning a doctor has cleared them), there is a high risk of them either getting injured again or endangering others.

Opioids are known to cause some cognitive issues. People may become less alert, and have difficulty concentrating. If they also work in a high-risk environment, to begin with, this can have devastating repercussions.

Speak With an Experienced Attorney

If you’ve been injured at work, you will greatly benefit from the help of an experienced work injury lawyer. Give us a call 24/7 at (816) 399-3706 for a FREE case evaluation.

Updated: November 19, 2019

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