The Department of Labor & Industries has reduced the amount of time doctors can prescribe narcotics (opioids) for injured workers without agency authorization from 12 to 6 weeks. This change takes effect as of July 1, 2013. After six weeks, L&I insurance coverage for opioids will depend on doctors’ use of best practices. The required best practices include monitoring whether workers are recovering their ability to perform normal activities and screening them for risks of side-effects or addiction.
…best practices include monitoring whether workers are recovering their ability to perform normal activities…
“These changes will improve pain treatment for injured workers as well as their safety during recovery,” commented Jaymie Mai, L&I Pharmacy Director. “For some doctors, measuring physical function and screening for risk may be new practices,” said Mai.
Practicing physicians who specialize in treating injured workers and in pain management worked with L&I to develop the new L&I opioid treatment guideline. The changes are consistent with the Department of Health’s pain management rules and are part of L&I’s ongoing efforts to improve pain treatment for injured workers. Doctors can find everything they need to implement the new treatment guideline, including authorization forms and helpful tools, at Opioids.Lni.wa.gov.
According to Mai, “We are pleased that high dosage levels have been coming down and we are seeing fewer deaths among injured workers due to pain medication.” Nationwide, since 2007 opioid-related deaths have exceeded accidental deaths due to motor-vehicles and firearms. Washington has been among the states with the highest rate of prescription opioid-related deaths.