The California State Compensation Fund (State Fund), the state’s main provider of workers’ compensation insurance, reports that it has seen a significant decrease in opioid use by injured workers since 2014.
State Fund said its efforts have reduced the number of opioid prescriptions for injured workers it provides care for by 82% between 2014 and 2021. Further, State Fund reports a 14% decrease between 2020 and 2021, despite a national increase in opioid use and overdose deaths throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key = motivation, education
This was accomplished through State Fund’s opioid reduction program, which was built around “a comprehensive strategy to motivate physicians to avoid or reduce prescribing opioids to injured workers, and to educate injured workers about the risks of using opioids to manage pain.”
The program focuses on:
- early prevention and intervention in new cases
- relapse and delayed recovery response programs, and
- reduction of chronic opioid usage in existing cases.
Peer-to-peer physician reviews, education for injured workers and treating physicians, and support for patients who are struggling to stop opioid use are also included in the program.
‘Hope to see more providers adopt reduction programs’
State Fund also found that:
- from 2014 to 2021, there was a nearly 80% decrease in the number of claimants on any opioid prescription and a 4.6% decrease from 2020 to 2021, and
- the number of patients taking high doses of opioids for more than three months has decreased by 91% from 2014 to 2021 and decreased by 11% from 2020 to 2021.
“Our results show that conscious, sustained education for patients and medical providers, paired with peer-to-peer physician collaboration, are invaluable tools in tackling the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, chief medical officer at State Fund. “Our hope is to see more providers adopt reduction programs, whether they take a comprehensive approach like ours or focus on specific issues.”