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WCIRB Releases Study on Chronic Opioid Use

The WCIRB has released its Study of Chronic Opioid Use and Weaning in California Workers’ Compensation. This Study uses data from the WCIRB databases of medical transaction records and unit statistical reports to help understand the cost implications of chronic opioid use and the process of weaning injured workers off of opioids in California workers’ compensation.

Key findings of the Study include:

  • Claims involving chronic opioid use cost more than nine times in physician services than the average workers’ compensation claim.
  • Chronic opioid usage builds gradually. The average claim in the Study reached the chronic opioid usage threshold in 11 months from the date of injury.
  • Almost half of the Study claims demonstrating chronic opioid usage weaned off of opioids completely within 24 months from the date of injury.
  • Injured workers who were not weaned off of opioids had much higher drug costs and higher treatment transaction volumes and costs than those who were weaned off of opioids.
  • The weaning process typically involved a gradual decrease in opioid prescriptions combined with a mix of alternative non-drug treatments and non-narcotic drugs. While there were no clear patterns of non-drug treatments for injured workers who were weaned off of opioids, the usage of non-opioid pain medications declined significantly less than that of opioids and other drugs.

The complete Study is available at the link below and in the Research section of the WCIRB website.

WCIRB Research Forum

The WCIRB will hold a WCIRB Research Forum webinar to discuss the Report findings. Register to attend the free webinar at the link below:

Study of Chronic Opioid Use and Weaning in California Workers’ Compensation
Thursday, April 5, 2018, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PT
Presenters: Dave Bellusci, EVP and Chief Actuary; Dr. Julia Zhang and Tim Basuino, Medical Analytics Specialists 
View video recording>

For those unable to attend the live webinar, a recording will be posted in the Research section of the WCIRB website following the event.

March 8, 2018