Longer-term opioid use in workers’ comp cases highest in Louisiana


In Louisiana, opioid use lasted more than 6 months in 17% of nonsurgical workers’ compensation claims involving employees who received at least one prescription for pain medication, the Workers Compensation Research Institute reported.

In cases with more than 7 days of lost time, that was the highest rate seen among the 25 states in the study, with New York second at 12% and Pennsylvania and Texas tied for third at 11%. There were four states tied for the lowest rate, at 4%: Missouri, New Jersey, Indiana, and Wisconsin, according to the WCRI report.

Overall, use of narcotics for pain relief by injured workers in such cases ranged from 60% in New Jersey to 88% in Arkansas (median, 76%), while use of any pain medication ranged from 85% in Minnesota to 95% in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas (median, 94%), the report showed.

The study involved claims with injuries that occurred from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010, with prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012. Longer-term users received a prescription for opioids within 3 months of their injury and had three or more visits to fill opioid prescriptions between the 7th and the 12th month after the injury.

The 25 states in the study "represent more than 70% of the workers’ compensation benefits paid in the United States," the WCRI noted.

The study was based on approximately 264,000 nonsurgical claims and more than 1.5 million prescriptions for pain medications. Data were extracted from the WCRI Detailed Benchmark/Evaluation database and consisted of detailed prescription transactions "collected from workers’ compensation payers and their medical bill review and pharmacy benefit management vendors," the report noted.

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