Employers Seek Answers as Opioid Deaths Escalate

Are there better ways to treat chronic pain?

Mar 03, 2016, 11:30 ET from Lockton

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Sixty-one percent of all narcotic-related deaths result from both prescription and non-prescription use of opioids. There are more than three deaths per hour in the United States from opioids. A new report from Lockton asserts failures in our workers' compensation systems have permitted unnecessary prescriptions and contributed to these troubling trends.

"There have been major advances that explain the 'why' of opioid over-prescribing and the escalating frequency of accidental deaths from these controlled substances," said Keith Rosenblum, Senior Strategist with Lockton Companies. "Opioids and cocktails containing opioids combined with muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, and sleep medications are used exclusively to address both acute and chronic pain. This may result in long-term over-prescribing."

In his recent white paper, "The Opioid Epidemic," Rosenblum discusses chronic pain with pointed attention to why the underlying reasons for such pain are being largely unaddressed, especially in workers' compensation claims.

Opioids, and chronic opioid therapy, are typically used to treat chronic pain. Contrary to medical treatment guidelines, approximately one-third of sidelined workers with new low-back injuries receive opioids during the first six weeks after injury and usually at the first doctor visit. Research suggests that receiving two opioid prescriptions during this early time frame is associated with a doubling of the risk of disability at one year.

Fourteen states have already passed or are currently creating legislation to close formularies for workers' compensation, which will substantially control the unnecessary prescribing of narcotics that treat acute and chronic pain. This trend is expected to continue and gain momentum. It is certainly a significant step in the right direction but it's not enough to address the root causes of the chronic pain predicament, says Rosenblum.

"Regardless of the states in which you operate, employers are not without recourse," said Rosenblum, "The outdated biomedical model of pain management has now been replaced by the bio-psychosocial model of pain management that considers the whole person—physical and emotional—and addresses the source of pain, permitting physicians to treat their chronic pain patients more effectively." 

About Lockton
More than 5,600 professionals at Lockton provide 48,000 clients around the world with risk management, insurance, employee benefits consulting, and retirement services that improve their businesses. From its founding in 1966 in Kansas City, Missouri, Lockton has attracted entrepreneurial professionals who have driven its growth to become the largest privately held, independent insurance broker in the world and 10th largest overall. For seven consecutive years, Business Insurance magazine has recognized Lockton as a "Best Place to Work in Insurance." To see the latest insights from Lockton's experts, check Lockton Market Update.

 

SOURCE Lockton



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