A Healthesystems publication

Fall 2013

State of Washington: Shifts Paradigm on Opioid Prescribing

Several states have been putting controls in place to better manage the use of Schedule II opioids in workers’ compensation.  Payers may be able to look towards states like Washington and others that have implemented evidence based guidelines to incorporate similar methodology when operating in states without controls.

Within the last decade, opioid treatments for chronic, non-cancer pain have grown significantly. An estimated 32 percent of all workers’ compensation patients nationally received  opioids and in increasingly higher doses.1  In the state of Washington, from 2002-2005, 42 percent of workers with compensable back injuries received an opioid prescription in the first year after injury, most often at the first medical visit for that injury. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, found that 16 percent of those same workers were still receiving opioids one year after injury.2

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1 -Dembe, A., Wickizer, T., Sieck, C., Partridge, J., and Balchick, R., Opioid use and dosing in the workers’ compensation setting. A comparative review and new data from Ohio. Am J Ind Med, 2012. 55(4): p. 313-24.
2 -Franklin, G.M., Rahman, E.A., Turner, J.A., Daniell, W.E., and Fulton-Kehoe, D., Opioid use for chronic low back pain: A prospective, population-based study among injured workers in Washington state, 2002-2005. Clin J Pain, 2009. 25(9): p. 743-51.
3 -Centers for Disease Control. CDC grand rounds: prescription drug overdoses – a U.S. epidemic. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2012. 61(1); 10-13.
4 -Office of the Attorney General of Florida, http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/AA7AAF5CAA22638D8525791B006A30C8, accessed September 13, 2013.
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