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The Opioid Risk for Workers’ Compensation Patients

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

The Opioid Risk for Workers’ Compensation PatientsManaging pain is one of the immediate concerns after a workplace injury. The patient may have intense pain after suffering a traumatic injury or chronic pain from an injury that developed over several years. Physicians sometimes prescribe opioid painkillers as a means of immediate pain relief. However, the public is learning more about the dangers of opioid addiction. Workers’ compensation insurers are taking action against the pharmaceutical companies and physicians who have pushed opioid use, in part because opioid addiction can increase the cost of workers’ compensation. For instance, an Illinois workers’ compensation insurance organization has filed a lawsuit against the makers and distributors of opioids, alleging that they are responsible for an increase in opioid addictions amongst claimants. Injured workers must be careful when using opioids during their injury recovery and should consider alternative methods of pain relief.

Dangers of Opioids

Opioid painkillers are safest when used for a short period. Patients who take opioids for a prolonged period can develop a dependence or addiction to the drug. How quickly the dependence develops depends on the patient and whether they take more than is recommended. Studies suggest that some patients can become dependent in a matter of days. People with opioid addictions may crave increased doses of the drug as their bodies become resistant to it. This increases the risk of overdose and death.

Effect on Workers’ Compensation

According to the National Safety Council, workers who received opioids for more than a week or had more than one opioid prescription are more likely to be on disability a year later. Workers who become dependent on opioids also:

  • Take longer than other workers to return from injury;
  • Are less productive and attentive when they return to work; and
  • May threaten their co-workers’ safety if they have a dangerous job.

The cost of a workers’ compensation claim will increase if the worker must go through rehabilitation to treat opioid addiction.

Your Options

Medical professionals are still figuring out the most responsible ways to use opioid painkillers. However, you should understand that opioids are not a long-term solution for relieving pain. You should talk to your doctor about other medicines and treatments that are proven to be effective and do not carry the risk of addiction or other harmful side effects.

Contact a Crystal Lake Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Workers’ compensation insurers will often try to deny continued treatments for pain by claiming that they are not necessary or you have reached maximum medical improvement. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can make sure that your claim pays for all the treatment that you need for your injury. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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