IAIABC Actively Responding To Opioid Epidemic

Madison, WI (WorkersCompensation.com) - Rightly called “an epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control, the abuse of opioid prescriptions has led to a staggering toll of death and addiction. Drug overdoses of all kinds now rival auto accidents as a cause of death in the U.S. This epidemic is spurring action by pockets of the workers' compensation community.

After the announcement of phased-out production of Oxycontin in Canada, several provinces are planning to ban or restrict its replacement, OxyNeo. After extensive study, Accident Fund Holdings has launched a comprehensive narcotics program with a focus on early intervention in cases with opioid use. Most recently, the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court adopted treatment guidelines for the use of Schedule II narcotics for work injuries and Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents adopted new Chronic Pain Treatment Guidelines.

While these are important steps, the magnitude of this issue requires leadership and support from more workers' compensation agencies and interest groups. The IAIABC invites agency administrators, medical professionals, claims administrators, and other interested parties to participate in the seminar IAIABC Medical Institute: The Opioid Epidemic on April 25.

With a focus on action through presentations and small-group discussions, attendees will come together to identify barriers, develop consensus strategies and provide recommendations for ongoing projects by the IAIABC and other organizations. This event will also inform participants of the likely concerns and objections that will be raised about reforms.

Alex Swedlow, California Workers' Compensation Institute, and Dr. Lee Glass, Washington Department of Labor & Industries, will headline the program by quantifying the scope and root causes of this epidemic. In the afternoon, multi-stakeholder groups will work through significant issues including treatment guidelines, closed formularies, physician education, prescription drug monitoring programs and more. Recommendations from discussion groups will be framed into guidelines for jurisdictions and private organizations to develop successful programs to confront inappropriate narcotic use.

“There is no more critical issue for executives to be addressing because opioid use is destroying the lives of injured workers and profoundly impacting our communities,” comments Jennifer Wolf Horejsh, IAIABC Executive Director. “Our intention is for this one-day event to encourage multi-stakeholder dialogue and serve as a catalyst for change.” This is a complex solution that will not be solved by passing a law or learning about one successful program; it can only be resolved by sustained initiatives at every level of the workers' compensation system.

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