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Workers' Comp System Hit By Opioid Crisis

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The workers’ compensation system and the injured workers it serves are not immune from the nation’s opioid crisis, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance. 
NCCI data shows that injured workers who were prescribed at least one prescription in 2016 received three times as many opioid prescriptions as the U.S. opioid-prescribing rate, which was 61 prescriptions per 100 persons, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Even so, the workers’ compensation system is better suited than the general public when it comes to battling the opioid epidemic, according to an article published by the national council Monday.

That's because of the worker's compensation regulatory system, which can include regular drug testing of injured workers, the article said. NCCI President and CEO Bill Donnell said in a statement that the company produced the three-part “On Opioids” series as part of its effort to “provide stakeholders timely insights on industry trends and concerns.”

The first of the three installments features interviews with physicians in the system.

According to one doctor interviewed for the article, coal miners were some of the first injured workers to be treated with opioids, leading physicians and the coal industry in West Virginia and Kentucky to become the target of opioid marketing efforts.

The region is among the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance gathers data, analyzes industry trends, and provides recommendations on workers compensation rates in Florida, which can either be accepted, or rejected.

Florida’s insurance commissioner actually sets the workers compensation rates in the state.