Study Shows Fewer Injured Workers Are Receiving Opioids

Law Firm Newswire



Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) November 27, 2019 – A study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) released in August 2019 shows a decrease in the number of injured workers receiving opioids to treat pain. The study indicates that medical providers are treating injured employees more with non-opioid medications and physical therapies.

The WCRI study examined interstate trends in prescribing pain medications and treatments in 27 states, including New Jersey, from October 2011 through March 2018. The study found the use of non-opioid pain medications and non-pharmacologic treatments is on the rise, with non-pharmacologic remedies showing the most increase. However, opioid prescriptions continue to be prevalent among non-surgical claims with more than seven days of lost time at work.

Of the 26 states, New Jersey showed the lowest percentage of claims with prescriptions that had opioids from 2016-2018. The percentage of claims with prescriptions with opioids in the Garden State fell to about 32 percent in 2016-2018 from about 48 percent in 2012-2014.
At the end of the study period, fewer injured employees received pain medication prescriptions and prescriptions in general that were paid under workers’ compensation. Throughout the study, a similar proportion of injured workers in most states received some form of pain treatment, but the study showed a shift from prescribing pain medications or treatments to providing non-pharmacologic treatments, like physical therapy.

Drug overdose deaths, many involving opioids, remain a major concern among the general population. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017, 70,200 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. The number of deaths translates to an age-adjusted rate of 21.7 per 100,000 people. Of the deaths, 47,600 involved opioids.

In 2017, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths rose in New Jersey by 29.3 percent (23.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016 to 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017). In an effort to address the problem, New Jersey passed a law effective May 16, 2017, limiting opioid prescriptions.

Statistics suggest a link between workers’ compensation and opioid addiction. For example, in 2016, 15 percent of workers’ compensation claims, with at least one prescription for opioids, had a date of injury going back six or more years.

Suffer an injury on the job? Talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer at Petrillo and Goldberg at 856.249.9295 or visit

Learn more at Petrillo & Goldberg Law 6951 North Park Drive Pennsauken, NJ 08109 1333 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 70 South Broad Street Woodbury, NJ 08096 Phone: 856-486-4343 Fax: 856:486-7979