Jeff Sheppard, Attorney in New Jersey Considers How Opioid Prescription Affect Worker’s Compensation

Posted on: April 11, 2018
NEW JERSEY. If you’ve injured your back or neck on the job, you may be in pain. Unfortunately, when individuals suffer from back pain, some doctors may turn to prescribing opioid drugs to alleviate the pain. Because these methods can be cheaper than other alternatives, some insurance companies may make it easier for doctors to prescribe opioids. While this might help with the pain in the short term, it could be causing workers serious problems with addiction in the long-term. According to the National Safety Council, research on opioid prescription has found that workers can suffer long-term impairment when they take opioid drugs longer than the phase where they are suffering from acute pain. In fact, opioid use can make a person more sensitive to pain in the long-term, making them more likely to use in the future, or require stronger doses to alleviate pain.

Research indicates that injured workers should not be supplied with more than one week of opioid prescriptions. Longer use can increase a worker’s risk of being disabled one year after their injury. Of course, it isn’t clear whether workers receiving longer prescription times were more seriously injured, or whether they had become addicted. Individuals can become dependent on opioids rather quickly.

So, what can be done to better protect workers? For one, prescribers and insurance companies have a responsibility to monitor patients on prescription opioids. In general, patients should be put on alternatives or put on very short-term supplies. Programs should also be in place to identify cases of abuse. Unfortunately, because opioids can be cheaper than physical therapy or other treatments, insurance companies sometimes opt to use the drugs instead of safer long-term options.

According to the National Safety Council’s Safety & Health Magazine, workers who are prescribed opioids can take longer to get back to work. While the costs might be lower in terms of medical treatment, these insurers may be raising their costs when you consider the cost of lost work benefits. In fact, workers with lower back pain who were prescribed opioids for longer periods of time, were out of work 251 percent longer.

Strangely, where a worker lived could impact his or her treatment options and whether he or she received longer-term opioid prescriptions. This may have to do with different best practices in different areas.

At the end of the day, being on opioid prescriptions can be dangerous. If you are suffering from lower back pain due to an injury on the job, consider your alternatives. Physical therapy, acupuncture, or chiropractic treatment may be safer and more beneficial. If you are being denied alternative forms of treatment and are concerned for your safety, consider reaching out to the worker’s compensation attorney, Jeff Sheppard, Esq. in New Jersey. Our lawyer may be able to help you fight to get the treatment and care you may deserve under the law. Visit us at to learn more about your options if you’ve been injured on the job, or if you’ve had your worker’s compensation claim denied in New Jersey.
Jeff Sheppard, Esq.
750 White Horse Pike
Hammonton, NJ 08037