This study compares characteristics of claims involving high levels of opioid use to claims with similar injury mix and injured worker age that involved only a lower dose of opioids. Key findings include:
About 2.5 percent of all Accident Year 2013 (AY2013) claims with any opioid prescription involved high-risk opioid use within 12 months of the date of the injury compared with 1.4 percent of AY2016 claims.
High-risk opioid use claims incurred significantly higher medical and indemnity costs than similar lower-dose use claims, and they tended to remain open longer.
High-risk opioid use claims were much more likely to involve permanent disability benefits than similar lower-dose claims.
During the first six months of treatment, the number of opioid prescriptions per AY2013 claim was 50 percent lower on lower-dose use claims compared to the similar high-risk claims, contributing to 50 percent lower total drug payments per claim.
Early indicators of high-risk opioid use include obtaining similar opioids from multiple dispensers, having overlapping opioid prescriptions, using extended-release/long-acting opioids and concurrently using opioids and benzodiazepines.
Physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic services – as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and non-narcotics – were used significantly more on similar lower-dose use claims than on high-risk use claims.
Video: WCIRB Research Forum
The WCIRB’s Julia Zhang, Ph.D., Director, Medical Analytics, and Dave Bellusci, Executive Vice President and Chief Actuary, hosted a webinar to share findings of the study and answer questions. View the video recording of the webinar