Opioid overdoses persists as a major public health problem and kill 78 Americans each day. Nationwide, opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths in 2014. Of those, about 8% (2,300) of the opioid prescription overdose deaths occurred in New York.
The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention state that the US is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdoses driven by a 200% increase in the rate of deaths involving opioid painkillers. According to the 2016 Report of the NYS Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone were involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid type. The CDC identifies opioid addiction as the number one risk factor for heroin addiction.
The National Safety Council cites a 2012 Workers Comp Prescription Drug Study which found 25% of all prescription drug claims were for opioids. They found that after receiving more than a one weeks supply of opioids soon after an injury, doubles a worker’s risk of disability one year later. Earlier this year Gov. Cuomo signed a law that limits the first time opioid prescription to 7 days, down from 30.
As of September 2015, there have been more than 34 million electronic searches for more than 12 million patients since the enactment of the Prescription Drug Reform Act, leading to an 82% drop in the number of doctor shoppers according to the NYS Joint Senate Task Force.
Employers should insure that Nurse Case Managers are reviewing all medical aspects of their claims including any prescription red flags and discussing them with the insurance carrier. Be sure to ask your insurance agent if your claimants are being medically monitored.
For more information on Medical Case Management and red flags you should be aware of, contact The Flanders Group at 800-462-6435 or take a look at these resources from the National Safety Council:
Addressing Opioids in the Workplace: http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/prescription-painkillers-for-employers.aspx
The Proactive Role Employers Can Take: Opioids in the Workplace: http://safety.nsc.org/rxemployerkit