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Opioid prescriptions decline for injured workers in Oklahoma

After analyzing the data from approximately 1.9 million prescriptions linked to more than 337,000 nonsurgical workers' compensation claims across 25 states, the Workers Compensation Research Institute calculated a drop in the amount of opioids prescribed to workers in Oklahoma and several other states. The study compared 24-month periods ending in March 2012 and March 2014, respectively. Oklahoma experienced a nearly 30 percent drop between the former period and the latter one.

The authors of the study noted that many states had made efforts in recent years to rein in opioid prescriptions when workers get hurt on the job. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the rise in overdoses from prescription painkillers as a national epidemic. Sales of opiate drugs have quadrupled since 1999 according to the CDC.

Reform efforts in many states may have contributed to the drops in opioid prescriptions confirmed by the WCRI study. Guidelines for the prescription of painkillers have been modified in some places. Programs to monitor the prevalence of opiate distribution have been stepped up as well. For workers' compensation insurance companies, painkillers represent the most expensive type of medications. Per year, the cost per user equals an average of $450.90 according to data from Express Scripts.

A person who has been injured at work might require various forms of medical care and pain management. Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage to pay benefits for workplace injuries. A worker, however, sometimes hits roadblocks when seeking information about these benefits and how to apply for them. An attorney could provide advice and assist in preparing and filing the required claim.

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