Many workers’ compensation claims are for injuries that result in severe pain or chronic pain, which require treatment with pain medications, often on an ongoing basis. In the past, the move by many doctors was to prescribe opioids to treat the pain and the workers’ compensation system would readily approve these prescriptions.

However, due to the opioid epidemic and the realization of the powerful addiction issues associated with these drugs, there has been a change in how the system handles such prescriptions.

The problem

According to U.S. News and World Report, addiction to opioid medications due to a work injury is quite high due to so many workers getting these drugs. Doctors used to prescribe them for even minor pain, but workers would continue to take the drugs months after their diagnosis. It was so common to prescribe these drugs that it soon became clear that it was doing more harm than good.

The solution

The Pennsylvania Department of Health explains that the workers’ compensation system and doctors are now follow prescribing guidelines to help prevent addiction and limit those who are on opioid medications. The guidelines include prescribing other medications or using alternative treatments.

Doctors also must monitor patients on these medications and closely follow all Pennsylvania laws regarding the safe prescribing of opioids. Patients must receive counseling and should only use the drugs for short-term pain management. Workers’ compensation may also deny coverage requests for drugs in this category.

By taking a strong stance on this category of drugs, the system can better control the use and prevent addiction issues.