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In the business of treating injuries (read: pain), the workers compensation industry spent 2017 navigating the landscape of fewer pain killers and issues arising from long-term use of addictive medicine.
For example, researchers with the Oakland-based California Workers’ Compensation Institute found that 70% of closed workers compensation claims in California include cash for future pain prescriptions under Medicare set-asides. Experts say the problem is a national issue. An article about the study was the tenth most read Workers Compensation story on BI's website in 2017.
A cover story in Business Insurance’s December 2017 issue tackled the problem of long-term prescriptions and opioid weaning in workers comp, a problem with no easy solutions as the industry works through its stash of legacy claims.
Meanwhile, the federal government got more involved in late 2017 when President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a “nationwide public health emergency.” Some organizations, however, said much more help was needed to combat the epidemic.
But the National Hockey League dodged, at least initially, a potentially costly opioids-related claim in June, when a federal judge in Chicago dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against the league. The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago by Len and Joanne Boogaard, the parents of former professional hockey player Derek Boogaard, who died because of an addiction to painkillers.