Workplace injuries often result in prescriptions for opioids. Opioids are a class of powerful drugs used to reduce pain and include the prescription medications oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl, and morphine. Opioids are painkillers that also can have serious side effects, particularly from long-term usage, including dependence, overdose, and fatality. News stories have abounded in the past several years about the growing number of opioid addictions and deaths – often characterized as an epidemic – across the United States.
Workers More Likely to be Prescribed Opioids
One notable statistic has shown that workers in certain industries and in certain geographic areas (especially rural areas) are more likely to be prescribed opioids for an on-the-job injury. Those who are employed in construction and mining industries are more often prescribed opioids, according to a recent study that examined pain medication in 27 states over a one-year period. Injured workers in rural areas of the country are up to 25 percent more likely to receive an opioid medication than urban workers. In rural areas with fewer than 20,000 residents, injured employees received one or more opioid painkillers 68 percent of the time. The concern for employers, policymakers, and Workers’ Compensation providers is the growing risk for opioid overdose and death. Statistics show that currently an average of 130 people in the United States die every day from an opioid overdose.
An injured employee who is covered under Workers’ Compensation is entitled to medical care and treatment for their workplace injuries. Those who suffer from fractures, back and spine injuries, and carpal tunnel or repetitive motion injuries often receive opioid painkillers. Yet studies also show that these medications do not necessarily provide improved results for the patient. In Washington State, one study demonstrated that being prescribed more than a week’s supply of opioids in fact doubles the worker’s risk of disability a year later. While injured workers in rural areas are at a higher risk, the current opioid epidemic is one that is significantly affecting Americans across geographic areas.
Court decisions have found that opioid dependence and deaths may be compensable under Workers’ Compensation if the cause is demonstrated. An injured worker who is undergoing treatment and recovery from the initial workplace injury should not be further at risk due to the type of treatment provided. Injured workers should be educated about the risks and side effects of opioid usage and the dangers of combining with alcohol. Injured workers who have questions about how their treatment was managed should always consult with a skilled Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer for guidance.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Injured Workers in Delaware
The Wilmington workplace injury lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC have a strong record of success handling Workers’ Compensation claims. We will represent you in your workplace injury case and work to get you the most favorable outcome so you can restore your life after an accident. We represent clients in Wilmington, Dover, Newark, and Middletown, Delaware. Please contact us for a free initial consultation at 302-888-1221 or complete our online request form.