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Workers' compensation data shows slowing of long-term opioid prescribing

August 4, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A newly released study of 26 state workers' compensation systems offers evidence that the prescribing of long-term regimens of opioids to injured workers has been slowing.

Released this week by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, the study found a decrease of more than four percentage points in claims with long-term opioid prescriptions in both Kentucky and New York. The comparison periods for this study were 2010-2012 and 2013-2015. Decreases of two to three percentage points were reported in Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee.

The report, Longer-Term Dispensing of Opioids, 4th Edition, also found that the highest rate of longer-term prescribing of opioids for injured workers among the studied states was found in Louisiana. Higher-than-average rates in the group also were seen in California, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

A prevalent concern voiced in this ongoing analysis has been the lack of guideline-driven services, such as drug testing or psychological treatment, offered to injured workers who receive opioids on a long-term basis. The latest edition of the study found that in 19 of the 26 studied states, fewer than 10% of injured workers with long-term opioids received psychological evaluations.