Workers' compensation may see changes to narcotic prescriptions

When an employee is involved in a serious accident in the workplace in Massachusetts or anywhere else, they may find themselves injured too severely to return to work for some time. For these people, workers' compensation is a benefit that allows them to maintain financial stability while they recover. Workplace insurers, though, complain that they are facing difficulties as policies they put in place seem to be draining money.

In many cases of severe workplace injuries, strong pain medications such as narcotics are prescribed in order to help an individual handle serious pain as they recover. Workplace insurers once encouraged the practice of prescribing these medications in place of more expensive therapies. However, now it seems that the use of these narcotics is becoming even more expensive.

With narcotics comes a risk for side effects and dependencies. These may lead to workers never being able to return to work. And, as a result, they may need to depend on compensation benefits much longer than originally anticipated.

Some injured workers benefit greatly from prescriptions of these narcotics and are able to make successful recoveries. It is argued, though, that some may benefit from weaker medications that are less likely to keep individuals on workers' compensation benefits for prolonged periods of time.

In response, some states want to change treatment requirements, making it more difficult to prescribe strong pain medications to injured workers. As such, injured workers in Massachusetts may benefit from being completely aware of legislation affecting their workers' compensation benefits as well as the details of potential treatments in order to ensure they are able to make an appropriate recovery and return to work in a timely fashion.

Source: The New York Times, "Painkillers Add Costs and Delays to Workplace Injuries," Barry Meier, June 2, 2012

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