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Injured Workers Getting Fewer Opioids In Florida

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A new study finds injured workers in Florida are using fewer opioids. 

The Workers Compensation Research Institute studied 26 states from 2010 to 2015. They found significant drops in how often injured workers got opioids, and drops in the strength of those drugs. For the first time, more than half of injured workers got non-opioid pain medications, like steroids.

But 45 percent of injured workers in Florida also got prescriptions for a drug that’s a central nervous system depressant, most commonly muscle relaxants like Soma. That’s the second-highest percentage of the states studied. Those combinations are associated with a higher risk of death.

Vennela Thumula, a policy analyst who worked on the report, said the dual prescriptions are most common when patients filled prescriptions both from doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

“So that sort of points to the less coordinated the care, it’s probably more likely,” she said.

Florida also had the highest number of patients getting a drug called tramadol – a weaker opioid.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.