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Workers Comp Delayed Medical Treatment Increases Opioid Prescriptions


Increased Opioids From Workers Comp Delayed Medical Treatment – WCRI

A recent WCRI (Workers Comp Research Institute) webinar showed that workers comp delayed medical treatment results in a higher level and longer treatment with opioids.   The chart below from the presentation says it all.  I will explain what the chart meant to me and why I pulled this one out of the many great tables and charts that WCRI presented with this presentation.

Two of my favorite WCRI researchers presented their findings in this webinar.

In this 45-minute webinar, Dr. Vennela Thumula, and Dr. Bogdan Savych discuss the study they authored, Early Predictors of Longer-Term Opioid Dispensing, and take audience questions.

The study identifies what best predicts which patients are more likely to develop longer-term opioid use, given what is known early in the claim about the worker, nature of the injury, and nature of the medical care. These findings can help policymakers and stakeholders in targeting policies and programs aimed at reducing inappropriate longer-term use of opioids.

Workers Comp Delayed Medical Treatment = 400% Increased Claim Cost

I have studied this statistic over my 30+ year insurance career.   Any delayed workers comp medical treatment costs you 400% more on average.  The delayed medical treatment usually comes from a delayed first report of injury to an employer’s carrier or TPA.   The delayed reporting adds in another 400% – so now the claim is now costing 800% more.

Let us look at one of the components that cause the 400% – 800% increase in claim costs.  Please click on the below thumbnail if the resolution is low.  

chart shows opioid increase workers comp delayed medical treatment
(c) WCRI – Boston, MA

What I surmised from this one chart is that the likelihood of the first physician office visit delay results in much higher and much longer treatment with opioids.  A chart paints a thousand words.

Two Keys Deal With Delayed Medical Treatment

In 1988, I wrote my first article on Workers Comp.   The article is the bedrock of the CutCompCosts website.

The four keys back in the horse and buggy days were:

  • Immediate First Report Filing
  • Immediate Medical Treatment to Doctor Network
  • Return to Work including modified duty < important term to save premium
  • Employee Treatment By Employer After Return to Work

Follow the previous link to see more articles on the keys.  I used to call them secrets.

Workers Comp Delayed Medical Treatment Violates the Keys

I enjoy when the rating bureaus and research organizations such as WCRI agree with what I have found to be true in my career.  Before I finished this article, I emailed an agent-client where the lag time of a leasing company was less than two days.

I had told him that his insured client has no delayed workers comp medical treatment.  The insured reports claims on average in less than two calendar days with immediate medical treatment.  The insurance industry calls it lag time.

Their Experience Mod has dropped from 1.4 to 1.07, saving them 33%+ in premiums.

Related: Medical Treatment Network Savings – Drive By Only?

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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management 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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