As everyone involved in the administration of workers’ compensation claims knows, pain medication, particularly opioids, are notorious medical cost-drivers. This is especially true when calculation potential liability or exposure for taking the interest of Medicare into account. Wisconsin, however, seems to be making progress with respect to curbing the tide of opioid abuse. According to a recent multi-state study of non-surgical workers’ compensation claims between 2009-2015 by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, injured workers’ in Wisconsin are using fewer opioids for pain than in the other states studied (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia).
However, the study indicated that 6% of workers injured in Wisconsin received a potentially deadly mix of drugs; particularly opioids mixed with benzodiazepines or other central nervous system depressants. This deadly mix increases the chances of overdose death.
In April 2017, a prescription drug monitoring program law went into effect; urging doctors to “start slow and go low” with respect to the amount and time frame of opioid prescriptions. This law was not in effect at the time of the study.
Thanks to Partner Scott McCain for bringing this study to our attention. Scott works out of the Chicago and Milwaukee offices of Inman and Fitzgibbons and will continue to monitor the effects of this new law. If you have any questions about workers’ compensation claims in Wisconsin, please feel free to reach out to Scott.