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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs will begin monitoring opioid prescriptions for injured federal workers starting in August.
Citing safety and addiction concerns, the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation is “instituting additional efforts to monitor and manage opioid medication usage, including plans for greater scrutiny of the prescription and utilization of opioid medications,” according to an announcement on the division’s website.
The new procedures will include a comprehensive review of opioid prescriptions for injured federal workers. The office urged “claimants and their treating physicians to be mindful of safety concerns relating to opioid medications and to consider alternative drugs that do not pose the same risks for addiction, dependency, and overdose.”
The new policy for oversight will be administered in two phases, the first of which addresses claims with newly prescribed opioid use — claims where an opioid has not been prescribed within the past 180 days — and will be implemented on Aug. 1. After an initial 60-day period, if an injured worker still needs opioid medication, the treating physician will have to submit to a review process for all subsequent prescriptions, according to the new policy. Authorizations for opioid drug prescriptions will be limited to a maximum of 60 days, with initial fills and refills to be issued in no more than 30-day supplies, the policy states.
A second, later phase will address legacy opioid claims. Details about that phase are forthcoming.
The steady march away from opioid prescribing in workers compensation will continue into 2017, according to industry experts who call this ongoing shift in treating pain for injured workers a necessary, but complicated journey for all parties involved.