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Opioid use and workers' compensation

Both employers and employees in New York are beginning to see the effects of opioid use. Not only are these painkillers prescribed in many workers' compensation claims, but they also lead to decreased productivity, missed work and more work-related claims.

According to the Postal Record, many of the opioid prescriptions were given due to injuries that occurred in the workplace. As a result, pharmaceutical companies answered the call for these pain relievers by continually developing new drugs. This helped build the foundation for what people are now referring to as an epidemic. To help combat abuse, a new opioid policy was issued. Directed at new prescriptions only, injured workers are given only a 60-day supply of pain medication. In order to get more, a letter of medical necessity needs to be filled out by a physician after examining the patient.

Long-term opioid abuse is taking a toll on employees and their ability to work. National Public Radio states that in the state of New York, 73% of workers' compensation claims involve opioids or other painkillers. In fact, their abuse costs employers billions of dollars every year, with costs stemming from workers' compensation and productivity loss. From withdrawal symptoms to the inability to find their pills, employees are missing more and more days of work. 

Along with missed days, opioid abuse also increases the chances of accidents in jobs that require high safety regulations. One suggested answer is to test for prescription painkillers in periodic drug screens for employees. Employers should also be able to recognize the signs of addiction and take steps to encourage recovery. 

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