Affecting both the worker and the workplace, high doses of prescription opioids, when taken over an extended period, can:
Delay the injured employee’s return to work.
A 2008 study conducted by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute revealed that injured workers receiving high doses of opioid painkillers stayed off work three times longer than those with similar injuries taking lower doses. The longer a recovering employee is away from work, the higher the claims costs for the employer. Moreover, workers who take opioids for more than three months usually don’t return to work at all, due to dependence or other side effects, per the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.
Compromise the safety of the recovering employee – and his or her co-workers.
Opioids can make a person less alert and slow reaction time. Consequently, employees taking opioid painkillers could put themselves – and their coworkers – at risk when operating heavy machinery, working from higher elevations or driving.
Lead to lower productivity, greater absenteeism and a higher risk of workplace violence.
According to the CDC, workers with a substance use disorder miss an average of nearly 15 workdays per year, while those with a pain-medication use disorder miss an average of 29 days a year.
Result in higher claims costs for employers.
Studies have shown that claims costs for injured workers using prescription opioids are significantly higher, on average, than the claims costs of similar injuries sustained by workers who are not taking these painkillers. A 2016 study by FAIR Health, a nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s largest database of privately billed health insurance claims, found that opioids account for one-quarter of all workers’ compensation prescription drug costs. Extended recovery time, treatment for drug addiction and long-term dependency can all drive up claims costs.
When it comes to successfully managing the use of prescription opioids, claims professionals focus on five key elements:
Realizing the risks injured employees face when struggling with pain management, AmTrust has partnered with Optum Workers' Comp and Auto No-Fault, a pharmacy care management company, to help break the dangerous cycle of overprescribing, misuse and addiction. The initiative has already prevented nearly 13,000 prescriptions that could have been unnecessary or unsafe. As the number one workers’ comp insurance carrier for small businesses in the U.S., AmTrust has the tools and resources to help educate your insureds about the dangers of opioid addiction. Additionally, our experienced underwriters will work closely with your agency to build a workers’ comp coverage program that best fits each client. The bottom line: Opioid addiction can consume the life of an employee suffering from chronic pain, resulting in the battle of a lifetime – one with potentially devastating costs. Support is an injured employee’s greatest ally. Both the employer and its work comp insurer are a critical part of that support system. For more information about our small business insurance solutions, contact us today. This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.