The use of narcotics in treating injured workers faces heavy scrutiny today – and for good reason. The latest National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) Annual Issues Symposium found that:
- The average cost of narcotics per Workers Comp claim rose from $39 in 2003 to $59 in 2011. This is a rate of 0.79 narcotic prescriptions per claim, up from 0.56 in 2003 – a 14% increase in eight years.
- More than 5% percent of Comp claims that resulted in at least one prescription for if any medication included five or more narcotics prescriptions.
To curb the prescribing of narcotics for your injured employees, start by choosing the right Workers Comp physician.
In most states, businesses have the legal right to designate the physician that injured employees must use. To find a physician in your area who is board certified in Occupational Medicine, go to http://www.acoem.org/. If none is available, look for a doctor who takes patients on Workers Compensation. In many cases, urgent care clinics make great partners. Once you find a physician, talk to him or her about your business, discuss your return-to-work program and the types of transitional jobs you offer – and ask about their attitude toward prescribing narcotics.
Even if state law prohibits you from requiring injured workers to see a specific physician, you can still suggest that they do so. For example, you might say, “Doctor Joan at Acme Urgent Care has treated many of your co-workers and they’ve gotten better quickly.”
Selecting a doctor who doesn’t dispense drugs and only prescribes narcotics when they’re are absolutely necessary can go far to help injured employees get back to work and be healthy and productive as swiftly as possible – while keeping your Workers Comp costs under control.