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States sees decline in workers' compensation opioid use

Most people in Minnesota have heard and read a lot of reports about the problems the nation as a whole is facing regarding the use of and dependence on opioid medications. These drugs have moved from being welcomed for their ability to give people relief from serious pain to being considered a central part of a national emergency. With the number of deaths, including suicides and non-intentional deaths, attributed in some way to opioid addiction and abuse, it only stands to reason that there might be a drop in the number of times these drugs are prescribed.

Many people who are hurt in job-related accidents or who develop workplace illnesses have been prescribed opioids by physicians. These prescriptions may have often been paid for by workers' compensation. Insurance Journal recently reported on the results of a study that reviewed the use of opioids by people with active workers' compensation claims. The study was conducted by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute and reviewed more than 575,000 cases across 27 states including Minnesota.

Between 2012 and 2014, nearly seven out of 10 Minnesota residents with workers' compensation claims were prescribed opioid medications. That number dropped to just over half of all workers' compensation recipients for the period from 2016 to 2018.

The study found drops in the other 26 states included in the study as well. All cases included claims by people who missed at least seven days of work due to their illnesses or injuries, were prescribed at least one drug and who did not undergo any surgical procedures.



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