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Few doctors follow recommended medical treatment guidelines for monitoring patients to prevent opioid pain medication abuse, according to research findings released Tuesday by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.
The WCRI report, “Longer-Term Use of Opioids,” looked at narcotics prescriptions across 21 states. It found “relatively low” compliance with the guidelines calling for monitoring practices such as urine drug testing and psychological evaluations that can help prevent addiction, overdose deaths and drug diversions.
“Among claims with longer-term use of narcotics, 18% to 30% received drug testing in most states studied, with the 21-state median at 24%,” the WCRI said in a statement. “Over the study period, the percentage of workers with longer-term use of narcotics who received at least one drug test increased from 14% to 24% in the median state.”
Among other findings, the study also reports that frequent and longer-term use of narcotics may lead to addiction and increased disability or work loss.
The study was based on about 300,000 workers comp claims and 1.1 million prescriptions. The claims represent injuries occurring from October 2006 to September 2009, with prescriptions filled up to March 31, 2011.
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