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Rules changing regarding opioid prescriptions for workers' comp

As we previously discussed, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has been working on a plan to help prevent workers from becoming addicted to pain pills as a result of a workplace injury. Opioid addiction is a nationwide problem that hits very close to home for Ohioans. The most recent report from the Department of Health regarding drug overdoses in Ohio is from 2014, and the results were staggering. In total, 2,482 residents died from drug overdoses. It’s a record-breaking statistic for Ohio, and a trend that BWC would like to quash.

BWC has made headway on their goal to help combat opioid addiction resulting from workplace injury treatment. Their Board of Directors recently approved a plan they believe will help promote the use of best medical practices when it comes to treating workplace injuries and responsibility prescribing pain medication. The best practices focus on individualized treatment plans, risk assessment, and monitoring patients’ progress.

If a physician fails to comply with the outlined best practices, the BWC will not reimburse for the opioid prescription. The penalties for failing to use best practices vary in severity, but could go as far as removing the physician from the BWC approved provider list.

There is a second part to the plan. The BWC will now offer opioid dependence treatment for those who became addicted to prescriptions that were covered by BWC. If the Ohio General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule review approves the rule, it will become effective on October 1.

If this rule goes into effect, it could help decrease the number of workers who become opioid addicts as a result of physician-prescribed painkillers to treat their alleged injuries. It does little, however, to address the false workers’ compensation claims that are often the catalyst to ending up in a doctor’s office.

Ultimately, making sure that employees who were injured on the job are able to return to work as healthy, productive individuals is the objective for BWC and employers alike.

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