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WCRI Study – Louisiana New York Have Highest WC Opioid Use

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WCRI Study

Oklahoma recently enacted new rules for opioid use as 8% of the general population were long term users of painkillers.   WCRI recently performed a startling study on Workers Compensation opioid use which indicated that Louisiana and New York injured workers were ingesting massive amounts of opioids.  

Spilt bottle WCRI of medicine
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The WCRI study was titled – Interstate Variations in Narcotics Use – 2nd edition.   Graphics are usually not in the article on this blog.  However, the graph at the end of this article is “worth a thousand words.”  The graph below says it all concerning opioid use.  

I usually do not like to cut/past right out of press releases, but WCRI’s Dr. Victor said it better than I could on WC opioid abuse.  The complete study is available here.   If you are a risk manager, adjuster, or anyone involved with WC claims, this is a very thorough study that should receive your attention.  

The dangers of narcotic misuse resulting in death and addiction constitute a top priority public health problem in the United States and are shared by the workers’ compensation community,” said Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI’s executive director. “This study will give public officials, employers, worker advocates, and other stakeholders the ability to see how the use and prescribing of narcotics in their state compares to others.” 

According to the study, the average injured worker in New York and Louisiana received over 3,600 milligrams of morphine equivalent narcotics per claim (double the number in the typical state). To illustrate, this amount is equivalent to an injured worker taking a 5-milligram Vicodin® tablet every four hours for four months continuously, or a 120-milligram morphine equivalent daily dose for an entire month. 

Besides New York and Louisiana, the amount of narcotics per claim was also higher in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma (32–48 percent higher than the typical state). Michigan had the highest amount of narcotics per claim among the Midwest states included in this study. It is worth noting that Michigan was among the states with lower use of narcotics per claim compared with the typical state in 2008/2010. 

The study found that narcotics are frequently used in the workers’ compensation system. In 2010/2012, about 65 to 85 percent of injured workers with pain medications received narcotics for pain relief in most states. A slightly higher proportion of injured workers with pain medications in Arkansas (88 percent) and Louisiana (87 percent) received narcotics. 

The study is based on approximately 264,000 workers’ compensation claims and 1.5 million prescriptions associated with those claims from 25 states. The claims represent injuries arising from October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2010, with prescriptions filled up to March 31, 2012. The underlying data reflect an average of 24 months of experience. 


The following states are included in this study: 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.

Average of WCRI Equivalent Amount Per Claim Emblem From Web

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James Moore

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Mgmt Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications

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