When a worker is injured on the job, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the Managed Care Organization (MCO), and the employer are all eager to help treat the injury and alleviate the resulting pain. For years, opioid pain killers like Oxycontin and Oxycodone were the go-to choice for health care professionals when treating chronic or long-term pain resulting from an injury. However, the sharp uptick in opioid addiction and overdoses in the last decade has led physicians and the BWC alike to a shocking discovery – more than 25% of those actively suffering from opioid addiction receive their drugs as the result of a prescription from a physician. As a result, the BWC announced in early 2019 that it would no longer approve new prescriptions of Oxycontin for injured workers in the BWC system. Read on to learn more about the new solutions and approaches that the BWC is taking to treat ongoing pain and help reduce the opioid crisis.

The issue

More than 75% of people suffering from opioid addiction in the 2000s reported that they were first introduced to opioids through a personal prescription from a physician for the treatment of pain. With the number of employees injured every year in Ohio’s workplaces, protecting those workers from the dangers posed by exposure to Oxycontin and Oxycodone can help reduce future injuries, addiction, and death.

Opioid addiction is one of the most difficult for users to overcome. In combating the opioid crisis, employers, physicians, and the BWC must take a proactive, prevention-focused approach to truly reduce the rate of addiction and overdose.

Part of the solution

In 2011, the BWC began taking a tougher look at Oxycontin and other prescription opioids. As a result, the number of opioid doses prescribed in the BWC system fell by 66% between 2011 and 2018. The Opioid Formulary Change is the latest step aimed at reducing the number of overdoses and new opioid addiction cases.

As of June 1, 2019, the BWC has dropped Oxycontin and Oxycodone from the formulary. The BWC approved replacing these powerful opioids with Xtampza ER, an equally effective pain treatment drug that utilizes abuse-deterrent technology, making it harder to become addicted. With Xtampza ER, injured workers are able to get access to needed pain relief medications while being protected from potential addiction and overdose death. Looking for additional solutions to combat drug use in the workplace? Check out How to Establish a Drug-Free Safety Program for more tips to help you combat drug use in the workplace.

Phasing out

In addition to removing Oxycodone and Oxycontin from the formulary, the BWC will also phase out the use of these opioid drugs over time. All injured workers with current prescriptions for Oxycodone and Oxycontin in the BWC system will be gradually weaned or switched to a different medication by December 31, 2019.

This phasing out period will allow physicians, injured workers, and their representatives the opportunity to discuss the changes and follow best clinical practices when altering existing prescriptions. Replacing current opioid prescriptions with non-opioid options ensures that employees get the relief they need without the fear of addiction.

Gainful employment is a key factor in successful recovery, but many employers may be hesitant to hire or work with those who are currently in treatment for their addiction. However, if you’re located in Montgomery, Ross, or Scioto counties, the BWC offers additional resources to help you provide a safe working environment for all of your employees, while helping those in recovery make a meaningful contribution to the company. Read Opioid Workplace Safety Pilot Program for more details on this valuable program.

Your partner in helping employees recover

Your MCO does not directly manage medications for injured workers, however, they are continually reviewing claims for medication relatedness and performing drug utilization reviews. Having a partner in your corner that you trust to look out for the best interests of your employees while returning them to work quickly and keeping your workers’ compensation costs down is vital to the success of your business. An MCO partner like Sheakley UniComp can guide you and your workers through the often confusing world of workers’ compensation, helping your employees return to work quickly and safely.

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