Report details long-term prescription drug use among Oklahoma's injured workers

The Workers Compensation Research Institute published a report Thursday that examines the prevalence of longer term use of opioids in 25 states and how often medical providers use recommended medical treatment guidelines when monitoring and managing long-term opioid therapy.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Published: May 8, 2014

About one in 10 injured Oklahoma workers took opioid prescriptions on a long-term basis, but few were drug tested or received psychological evaluations and treatment, a report released Thursday showed.

The Workers Compensation Research Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Massachusetts, published a report Thursday that examines the prevalence of long-term use of opioids in 25 states and how often medical providers use recommended medical treatment guidelines when monitoring and managing long-term opioid therapy.

“The issue this study addresses is very serious, which is how often doctors followed recommended treatment guidelines for monitoring injured workers who are longer-term users of opioids,” said Dr. Richard Victor, the organization’s executive director, in a news release. “This study will help public officials, employers, and other stakeholders understand as well as balance providing appropriate care to injured workers while reducing unnecessary risks to patients and costs to employers.”

The 25 states included in the study represented more than 70 percent of the workers’ compensation benefits paid in the United States.

Oklahoma was one of nine states called out in the report for its high proportion of long-term opioid use, referring to people who had opioids, or narcotics, within the first three months after their injuries and had three or more visits to fill opioid prescriptions between the seventh and 12th months after their injuries.

The study found long-term opioid use was most prevalent in Louisiana, where one in six injured workers were identified as having long-term use of opioids. By contrast, fewer than one in 20 injured workers received opioids on a long-term basis in several Midwest states, including Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin.