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Injured Louisiana workers top list of longer-term opioid users: Study


Longer-term opioid use was most prevalent in Louisiana, where one in six injured workers taking opioids were identified as longer-term users, according to findings by the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.

The report, “Longer-Term Use of Opioids, 2nd Edition,” released Wednesday, is an update of a previously published WCRI study, looked at longer-term opioid use across 25 states. The study was based on 264,000 nonsurgical claims and more than 1.5 million prescriptions. The claims represent injuries occurring from October 2009 through September 2010, with prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012.

Workers were identified as longer-term users if they had opioids within three months of getting injured and had three or more visits to fill opioid prescriptions between seven and 12 months after they were injured.

According to the report, one out of every six injured workers taking opioids in Louisiana were identified as longer-term users. Meanwhile, one in eight or nine injured workers were identified as longer-term opioid users in New York, Pennsylvania and Texas, and one in 10 or 11 in California, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Fewer than one in 20 injured workers were identified as longer-term opioid users in New Jersey and several Midwest states — including Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin — the report states.

The study also found an increase in the use of drug testing among injured workers in the states studied. However, the use of psychological services among longer-term opioid users remained low.

“This study will help public officials, employers, and other stakeholders understand as well as balance providing appropriate care to injured workers while reducing unnecessary risks to patients and costs to employers,” Richard Victor, WCRI’s executive director, said in a release.

The states studied were Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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