Tag Archives: work comp

Opioid Task Force, Recent Studies, and CDC Opioid Recommendations

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson, from The Jernigan Law Firm, in North Carolina.

Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council is also looking at the issue of opioid use.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently joined many other states (i.e. Massachusetts) in tackling the issue of opioids in the workers’ compensation cases by creating a Workers’ Compensation Opioid Task Force. The goal of the task force is to “study and recommend solutions for the problems arising from the intersection of the opioid epidemic and related issues in workers’ compensation claims.” According to the Chair, “[o]pioid misuse and addiction are a major public health crisis in this state.” 

As of last June, a study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) noted “noticeable decreases in the amount of opioids prescribed per workers’ compensation claim.” From 2012 – 2014, “the amount of opioids received by injured workers decreased.” In particular, there were “significant reductions in the range of 20 to 31 percent” in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas. 

Additionally last March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain “in response to an epidemic of prescription opioid overdose, which CDC says has been fueled by a quadrupling of sales of opioids since 1999.” 

Currently, the CDC’s recommendations for prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care will likely follow these steps:

1.  Non-medication therapy / non-opioid will be preferred for chronic pain.

2.  Before starting opioid therapy for chronic pain, clinicians should establish treatment goals and consider how therapy will be discontinued if benefits do not outweigh risks.

3.  Before starting and periodically during opioid therapy, clinicians should discuss with patients known risks and realistic benefits of opioid therapy. 

2016-2017 Treatise Edition Available!

The latest and greatest edition of our treatise Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Law is available.  To order the 2016-2017 edition directly from West publishing, follow this link.   

Legislative enactments changed the substance and structure of Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation system.  The 2016-2017 edition of Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Law highlights these significant changes and their potential impact, including:

  • Wisconsin’s 2015-2017 Budget Bill (2015 Wis. Act 55) altered the organizational structure involved with the Workers’ Compensation Act.  These changes are treated in this edition. 
  • The statute of limitations for traumatic injuries was reduced from 12 years to six (6) years for injury dates on/after March 2, 2016.  The statute of limitations for occupational exposure claims remained at 12 years.
  • If a worker suffers a traumatic injury (after March 2, 2016) resulting in a permanent partial disability rating (PPD), a physician’s report on PPD must include an opinion regarding the approximate percentage of disability caused by the traumatic injury and, if applicable, the percentage of disability caused by “other factors” before or after the injury.
  • All indemnity benefits are barred if an employee violates an employer’s consistently enforced policy concerning alcohol and drug use when the violation is “causal to” the worker’s injury.  Previous law allowed a potential reduction of a worker’s benefits by 15% if the injury was the result of intoxication or use of controlled substances.
  • For injuries on/after March 2, 2016, temporary total disability benefits can be suspended when an employee is released to limited duty post-injury and subsequently suspended/terminated for “misconduct” or “substantial fault” as defined under the unemployment insurance law.