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Workers' compensation and opioid addiction

According to the Workers' Compensation Research Institute, for every four injured workers, three are provided opioid prescriptions after they are injured on the job. Another statistic that is even more alarming is that the Journal of Addictive Diseases reports that up to 35 percent of injured workers on pain medications are addicted to them.

In Maryland, prescription opioid medications are responsible for 10 percent increase in overdoses, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The largest writer of Maryland workers' comp insurance, Chesapeake Employers' Insurance Company, has its president and chief executive officer tackling this issue by having employers promote a message of prevention when it comes to opioid drug addiction and abuse.A free kit for employers, "STOPioid Drug Addiction Prevention Message Kit," includes posters for prevention awareness, digital graphics and a safety article, flyer and tip sheet.

The president and CEO said, "Many injured workers are prescribed opioid painkillers to help with the pain they suffer after a serious injury. The problem occurs when injured workers get addicted to these drugs."

The medical advisor for Chesapeake Employers said that some of the opioid prescriptions are in the same class as morphine and heroin. In addition, these prescriptions don't always help injured workers get back on the job. They can lead to increased medical expenses and disability. He suggests that injured workers discuss non-narcotic pan meds with their physicians.

Workers' compensation benefits are available to those workers who have been injured on the job. If your claim for benefits is denied, an experienced attorney can help with an appeal.

Source: workerscompensation.com, "Painful Reality: Opioid Addiction in Maryland Workplaces on the Rise," Jan. 13, 2017

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