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
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Opioid drugs include painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, two of the most prescribed drugs in Oklahoma.

As the report points out, opioid misuse resulting in overdose deaths, addiction and diversion is a major public health problem in the U.S.

In the past 12 years, Oklahoma has seen the overall number of overdose deaths from prescription drugs more than double, and the number of deaths due to hydrocodone and oxycodone more than quadruple. Overdose deaths now surpass motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of unintentional injury in the state and are the leading cause of death by injury for Oklahomans ages 25 to 64.

Thursday’s report was based off data analyzed from workers compensations claims where a worker lost more than seven days of work because of his or her injury and did not receive surgery but did fill a prescription paid for by a workers’ compensation payer.

The report showed that many medical providers are not following treatment guidelines for chronic opioid management, including drug screening testing and psychiatric evaluation.

In Oklahoma, only 25 percent of injured workers represented in the data were required to undergo urine drug testing.

Also, only 5 percent of injured Oklahoma workers had psychological evaluations, and only 3 percent had psychological treatment.

However, a high percentage of workers — 92 percent — did receive physical therapy, one type of treatment that’s part of the medical treatment guidelines recommended for long-term opioid therapy.