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Will prescription narcotics affect your workers' comp claim?

If you have been injured on the job, you have likely been examined by a physician. Depending on the nature of your injury, your physician may have prescribed you painkillers. There is absolutely no shame in taking prescription painkillers if you truly need them. However, because narcotic pain killers can be addictive, you must be extremely careful when taking them.

If you are informed about proper dosages and do not exceed them, you will hopefully not develop an addition to these medications. However, it is possible that narcotic prescription pain killers could harm you even if you remain free of addiction. A new study indicates that taking prescription narcotic painkillers may negatively affect your workers’ compensation claim.

The recent study has been published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The researchers who conducted the study have concluded that when physicians dispense prescription narcotic painkillers to individuals who have suffered work-related injuries within 90 days of their accidents, negative consequences tend to result.

A medical director recently explained that both this study and a February 2013 study confirm a disturbing trend. He noted that, “These studies leave little doubt that physician dispensing of medications, especially opioid medications, results in poor outcomes for injured workers. Longer recoveries, more time away from work and increased medical costs are all unfortunate outcomes of this prescribing practice in workers’ compensation.”

Although taking prescription narcotic painkillers may not directly affect your ability to collect compensation, it does seem that taking these medications may place you at a higher risk for poor outcomes associated with your claim.

Source: Claims Journal, "Narcotics Dispensed by Doctors Linked to Poor Outcomes in Workers' Comp Claims," May 14, 2014

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