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People on worker's comp hit hard by opioid crisis

A recent study of the opioid epidemic in Maryland finds that worker's comp filers older than 60 and who earn more than $60,000 are more likely to remain dependent on opioids three months after their injury.

The study, conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, looked at 9,600 people who filed insurance claims from 2008 to 2016. Researchers wanted to understand shared characteristics between injured workers who were dependent on opioids so they could stem the epidemic.

Strain, sprain, crush injuries

The study found that some workers were at a higher risk for dependence. Workers who made at least $60,000, were older than 60 and filed for worker's comp after suffering from strain, sprain or crush injuries had a higher proportion of persistent opioid use, the researchers wrote.

Armed with this information, doctors can now consider pain minimization therapy other than opioids.

Maryland is one of the top states in the nation

There were 1,325 overdose deaths in Maryland in the first six months of 2018. About 90 percent of the deaths were caused by opioids although only about 200 were related to prescription opioids, the state Department of Health reported.

The rate of deaths from opioid-related causes in Maryland has consistently been above the national average since 1999. In 2016, Maryland saw nearly 30 deaths per 100,000 people from prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl while the national rate was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Doctors in Maryland wrote 3.9 million prescriptions for opium in 2015, or 65.6 prescriptions per 100 people. The national rate in 2015 was 70 opioid prescriptions per 100 people.

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