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1 in 12 injured workers continue taking painkillers for up to six months: study

October 10, 2012

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Cambridge, MA – About 8 percent of workers who are prescribed narcotics for injuries continue using them three to six months later, which might lead to addiction and further work loss, concludes a new study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

Researchers examined 300,000 workers’ compensation claims and 1.1 million prescriptions in 21 states covering a five-year period, according to the study abstract. They concluded that addiction and increased disability or work loss is tied to more frequent and longer-term use of narcotics.

Additionally, researchers found few physicians followed recommended treatment guidelines to prevent misuse of narcotics. For example, drug testing was conducted less frequently than recommended, and only 4-7 percent of injured workers with longer-term narcotics use received psychological evaluations or treatment services.

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