27 Jun The New Opioid Bill And How Workers’ Compensation Is Affected
Opioids are narcotic painkillers that work by preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. They are synthetic drugs that resemble the effects of natural opium, derived from the opium poppy. OxyContin and Percocet are a couple of the popular brand-name opioids, but there are many more. Taking them may produce a euphoric effect, or “high.” Opioids are generally recommended for short-term pain relief due to injury, surgery, disease or cancer treatment, or as a palliative measure for the terminally ill, but doctors also prescribe them to address chronic pain.
The most important aspect of the opioid addiction epidemic is its potential to significantly impact the wellbeing of employees, whether they themselves are abusing the drugs, or they’re dealing with the stress of a loved one’s addiction.
A New Workers’ Compensation Law in New Jersey
On February 15, 2017, Governor Chris Christie signed a new law requiring health insurance coverage for treatment of substance abuse disorders and certain restrictions on the prescription of opioids and other Schedule II drugs. There are several key provisions contained in this bill that will have an impact on workers’ compensation practitioners.
First, the bill sets time limits for how long prescriptions may be written. This aspect of the bill will directly impact workers’ compensation physicians. The initial prescription for an opioid cannot exceed a five-day supply for acute pain. After the fourth day, upon consultation with the medical provider, the physician can issue a subsequent prescription up to a 25 day supply.
The bill also requires the provider to take steps that many workers’ compensation pain management doctors in New Jersey already perform:
Taking a thorough medical history, including the patient’s experience with non-opioid medications and non-pharmacological pain management as well as substance abuse history:
-Conducting and documenting a physical examination;
-Developing a treatment plan focused on the cause of the patient’s pain;
-Accessing the Prescription Monitoring Program, which is an invaluable resource that tracks all prescriptions for narcotics and opioids from all providers going back several years.
Without a doubt, this legislation highlights a growing problem in the State of New Jersey in connection with high numbers of patients who have become addicted to and dependent on opioids to function in their lives. Without intending to do harm, some pain management doctors have in the past effectively traded acute pain relief for long term dependency and addiction. That is less likely to occur in the future on account of this legislation.
FREE Workers’ Compensation Consultation with Attorney Jeffrey M. Bloom
If you have questions or concerns dealing with your workers’ compensation claim, it may be time to contact a competent and experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Mr. Jeffrey M. Bloom is in West New York. Call Mr. Bloom at (855) 282-8286 and set up your consultation. Having his experience in your corner will help assure you that you are well represented in your workers’ comp case.