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California job site accidents: Unnecessary long-term opioid use?

A new study has suggested some disturbing results for workers involved in job site accidents. The study examined the habit of opioid use among employees claiming workers’ compensation in California and throughout the nation. The study showed that long-term use of the narcotics was at an increase in 10 out of the 21 study states. Workers injured in job site accidents who use these drugs after a non-surgical injury could be at a higher risk for addiction.

The study examined a period of one year and workers prescribed the drugs within the first three months of a job accident. These workers also filled the prescriptions a minimum of three times over the period of seven to 12 months. Some states had higher rates than others. Unfortunately, California was listed among those states with the highest rates of long-term opioid use.

The people behind the study stated that their motivation in the research was to point attention to how dangerous such drugs could be for workers in the United States. They further stated that the drugs could be linked to overdose deaths, diversion and addiction and are a major public health problem in this country. Over 55 percent of the workers were prescribed the drugs in apparent disregard of medical recommendations to limit the use of those types of drugs and only use them for pain that does not respond to other forms of medications.

Although opioids have a place for some workers involved in job site accidents, the study results point to a disturbing trend of long-term use. This could potentially harm both the employer and the employee in the future. California workers’ compensation is there to help injured workers and can compensate them the costs of their medical bills; however, the study points to a concerning trend of prescription use that could affect such workers negatively in the future.

Source:, “WCRI: Longer-Term Opioid Use for Workers’ Comp Claimants Rises in 10 of 21 States Studied,” Phil Gusman, Oct. 3, 2012