Here’s a frightening statistic: Nearly a third of the prescriptions Ohio’s state insurance fund for injured workers paid for last year were for addictive painkillers. Now Ohio is joining other states in trying to reverse this trend.
Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has seen a 37% increase in the use of such drugs in the past 10 years.
The BWC’s pharmacy director, John Hanna, says the agency is part of the problem because some of its patients have been mistreated by prescribing physicians.
Hanna says the BWC has 7,000 injured workers taking doses of painkillers, often opiates, at levels that meet the definition for being physically dependent on the drugs.
Overzealous marketing of painkillers and doctors who prescribe them too readily are also part of the problem, according to Hanna.
To reverse this trend, Ohio is restricting the drugs that doctors can prescribe after treatment for the initial pain after a workplace injury.
It may be working. From February to April, the BWC marked a 12% drop in patients receiving the most powerful narcotic painkillers.
A statement from the BWC says its main purpose is still to get employees back to their jobs quicker, and over-prescribed opiates stand in the way of that goal.
Ohio’s not alone in this. In Washington state, the workers’ comp agency enacted dosage guidelines in 2010 to combat this problem.
Has the increase in prescriptions for powerful painkillers affected your workplace? What’s the solution to reverse this trend? Let us know what you think in the comments below.