Do Opioids Help Injured Workers Return to Work Sooner?

Ohio workers' compensationIf you have been injured on the job, you’re in a tough situation. Understandably, you want to return to work as soon as possible by taking advantage of medical treatment.

Where do you draw the line? How about opioids?

It’s a fact that the proper use of opioids can help injured workers return to work. In the long run, however, the painkillers may be much more trouble than they are worth, because the treatment is more expensive and may not speed up the return of workers to their jobs.

That’s the conclusion of new research reported by MarketWatch.com. The study shows long-term use of opioids roughly tripled the amount of money that employers spend on temporary disability benefits when compared to workers with similar injuries who were not prescribed opioids. The bottom line: researchers found no evidence that opioids are beneficial when prescribed in workers’ compensation cases.

Teaming up for the study were researchers at the Workers Compensation Research Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and the Department of Economics at the University of California, Irvine. The National Bureau of Economic Research, also in Cambridge, distributed the study.

The researchers analyzed workers who suffered back injuries on the job, who missed more than seven days of work and who could qualify for workers’ compensation. They compared workers who were prescribed opioids for an extended time period to workers who were not. What they found is that workers who did not use opioids often returned to work sooner.

The researchers were careful to point out that the use of opioids sometimes may be necessary to help workers recover from injuries. They concluded, however, that the long-term use of opioids may be counter-productive and that state regulators should consider additional research into whether the way they prescribe opioids for injured workers make sense.

Employees who are under pressure can fight back

As an employee, though, you may be feel pressured to use opioids as part of your treatment plan. Your employer is looking for short-term gain at the risk of potential long-term issues – your health. Your reluctance to take opioids as part of your recovery could be interpreted as an unwillingness to cooperate with your employer at the potential cost of your job. In addition, as we hear more and more about opioids in the news every day, there’s the obvious risk of addiction.

If you have suffered an injury on the job in Ohio and have questions about your medical options, your best bet is not your employer, an insurance company or the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Each is looking out for its own interests, not yours. You need an advocate like the experienced workers' compensation lawyers at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A. We have more than 150 years of combined experience handling cases like yours, with offices in Dayton, Troy, Springfield and Cincinnati.

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