The primary purpose of workers’ compensation is to help injured workers make ends meet while they recover from injuries stemming from on-the-job accidents. In most cases, this includes the payment of funds to offset a worker’s losses caused by the inability to earn an income. Additionally, they may receive medical or rehabilitative services to help them get back on the job.
Part of the rehab practice includes pain management, which may involve prescriptions for opioid based pain killers. While this may seem like typical protocol, a growing number of people have become addicted to these drugs, and the response from doctors and employers has been relatively lukewarm.
A recent Reuters.com report detailed a study showing how government officials have notified physicians about how their prescribing patterns may lead to more patients becoming dependent on painkillers. However, it appears that physicians are ignoring them. In the meantime, addiction to pain medicines, particularly opioid based drugs, has risen dramatically since the 1990s, with deaths due to overdoses quadrupling between 1999 and 2014.
The study, which reviewed Medicare data between 2011 and 2014, also found that more than 1,500 doctors prescribing potentially addictive drugs at much higher rates than their peers. While these prescribing methods may help get an injured worker back to the workforce sooner, they come with a cost that many workers are not aware of and are not prepared to deal with.
Because of this, it is important for an injured worker to consult with a workers comp attorney (as well as a competent physician) to get advice on how a worker can return to work without the need or benefit of dangerous drugs.