Pennsylvania: Injured Workers and Opioids
June 23, 2018
With the goal of striking a balance between abuses by medical professionals who overprescribe opioids to injured workers and the rights of the injured workers themselves to obtain safe and effective medical care, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently vetoed a bill that prioritized profits over people.
What is Senate Bill 936 and Why Did Governor Wolf Veto It?
Most fundamentally SB 936 proposed creating a drug formulary – or a list of approved medications – that doctors would be forced to rely on when writing prescriptions for injured individuals out of work (as well as on limited or modified duty) with compensation claims. Drug formularies are notorious for benefitting insurance companies over injured individuals because they prioritize keeping costs low over providing safe and effective treatment.
Instead of a drug formulary, one of Governor Wolf’s main goals is to better regulate when injured workers should – or should not – be prescribed opioids in order to curtail some of the associated risks. While Pennsylvania is a state with high levels of opioid abuse, depending on the severity of an injury, some workers require opioid medications for pain management or other medical reasons. SB 936 would have allowed the state to choose what medications would or would not be available instead of a patient’s doctor.
Pros and Cons of Opioids
Opioids can be highly addictive, potent, and carry risks like overdose and death. They belong to a class of both synthetic and non-synthetic drugs; some common opioid medications include OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, and morphine. In part, opioids are dangerous because of how easily – and quickly – a person can develop a tolerance when on the medication. They are also dangerous because when someone takes too large of an amount because it can lead to respiratory depression and death.
On the other hand, opioids also have numerous benefits. They can provide therapeutic effects, particularly for individuals experiencing moderate-to-severe pain levels. For injured workers, prescription medications can quite literally make the difference between being able – or unable – to return to work.
As new legislative bills are approved or vetoed, we will keep our readers updated. If you are an injured worker who has any questions about a workers’ compensation claim or how Governor Wolf’s plan could affect your current claim, please contact a representative at our firm who can help answer your questions.
Allentown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you were injured at work, please contact our Allentown Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading, and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.