Pain Killers Delaying Healing of Workplace Injuries?
Over recent years, strong opioid painkillers have become more frequently prescribed for common work injuries such as back pain. With the rising costs of workplace insurance, some companies are looking into the effectiveness of these prescriptions, and trying to determine whether or not strong prescription medication is really in the best interest of injured workers.Expensive medicine
If used too much and for too long, narcotic painkillers can have a detrimental affect on healing. These drugs also have a danger of addiction and overdose. Prescription drugs are increasingly being prescribed for cases of chronic pain, and some people are wondering whether the frequent use of strong painkillers is actually contributing to cases of chronic pain.
A 2008 study by the California Workers Compensation Institute found that employees who took high doses of pain killers for injuries like back strain stayed off of work three times longer than those who took lower doses of painkillers. There is little evidence that painkillers are even effective for common injuries such as back pain, but they are prescribed frequently for these types of injuries.
Accident Funds Holdings, a workplace insurer in 18 states, determined recently that prescription painkillers can greatly increase the cost of a workplace injury claim. The average workplace injury costs insurers approximately $13,000. When short term painkillers like Percocet are prescribed, costs increase to $39,000. When strong, long term painkillers like OxyContin are prescribed, costs soar to $117,000.
Between 2001 and 2008, the use of narcotic painkillers used to treat workplace injuries increased 63%. While painkillers do have some benefits for short term use, this is a huge increase in narcotic prescription drugs, especially when they are used to treat injuries such as back pain.
Some of the blame can be placed on insurance companies’ own policies of denying non-drug treatment such as physical therapy but allowing narcotics to be prescribed. However, many companies are now trying to amend this problem by making it more difficult for doctors to prescribe strong painkillers for an extended period of time, and by emphasizing the importance of non-drug pain treatments like physical therapy.
Ty Wilson is a Savannah workers’ compensation attorney who dedicates himself to educating injured workers about the Georgia workers’ compensation system. Visit tywilsonlaw.com to read many articles, watch videos, and to order Ty’s FREE reports.
If you have questions for a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer, give Ty a call at 912-508-4711 in Savannah or 770-948-5454 in Atlanta.