A recent report released by the Workers Compensation Research Institute stated that injured workers in Pennsylvania receive stronger painkillers per claim than in the average state. The study said that the average injured Pennsylvania worker gets about 2,745 milligrams of a morphine equivalent narcotic per claim. It further stated that only in New York and Louisiana does the average worker receive more than in Pennsylvania. These medications include OxyContin or Percocet. Of course the concern is addiction. So why this occurring and what can be done about it?
Why it is occurring is a complicated question and would require extensive analysis.
Does the Workers’ Compensation Law in Pennsylvania contribute in some way to doctors prescribing these medications? Perhaps it does.
To continue to receive benefits one must show continued disability. Pain is a major factor. How doctors deal with the issue of pain is at the heart of the matter. Is the insurer willing to pay for alternative treatments?
Where the claim is being denied and litigated fortunately there are doctors who will treat the worker and hopefully get paid if the case is successful. In the interim, however, diagnostic tests usually cannot be done and surgery is not an option due to lack of insurance. The pain continues and medications are the only option.
There are others whose claims have been accepted or won their cases and the management of pain through these medications is like being on automatic pilot. Prescriptions continue to be renewed. All of the above are situations may not be good for the injured worker.
The injured worker must be his or her own advocate when it comes to pain management. The help of competent and compassionate counsel who will take the time to listen and guide the worker is very important as well. The lawyer is not a doctor and should never give medical advice despite being familiar with various injuries and treatments. But the lawyer can guide the worker to be more proactive in getting the best medical advice possible and develop a plan of action. The worker must be educated on his or her condition, current treatments and the risks or consequences of various treatment plans.
The key to management of pain is to be proactive and educated, not only on the medicine but the law as well. We have seen all too often when someone is receiving narcotic medications and is suddenly cut off due to proceedings in his or her case. The worker must be prepared for this eventuality. Consulting with a lawyer who listens and takes the time to explain is crucial to the workers well- being.
If you have been injured at work, call the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or submit a free online inquiry. We will guide you through the complexities of your Workers’ Comp claim and provide the counsel and support necessary to obtain your optimal recovery.