We were part of creating the problem, now its time to be part of correcting the problem.
I'm talking about opioid addiction.
In his seminal white paper, published by WorkCompCentral, Peter Rousmaniere presents an overview of how workers' compensation fueled the opioid epidemic, and matter of factly states that "the use of opioids is by far the most controversial and risky kind of care in workers' comp."
One of the driving forces behind the over-prescription of narcotics in workers' compensation is chronic pain. The data is incontrovertible - the longer a treatment case stays open and left unattended by even nearly benign, conservative care, the more the acute pain patient becomes chronic.
There are many potential explanations for this, but I think one of the most compelling is in the brain's curious way of mapping itself into behavior; behavior that essentially gets learned by the brain.
This is called neuroplasticity. The brain can learn pain, and the brain can learn relief.
But most workers' compensation victims are devoid of the resources to enable reformatting of the brain to deal with pain. There are many reasons for this, and certainly the industry's reaction to over-zealous physical medicine providers has contributed to the reduced bag of tricks that treaters previously used to deal with pain.
Pills are easy to dispense, and easy to take. And the habit is well supported by pharmaceutical concerns eager to please Wall Street.
The medical community is happy with the pill dispensing too - we have all seen physician revenue enhancement systems pitched by pharmacological monitors...
In the past few years there has been so much negative publicity and public awareness of opioid issues that there has been a decline in prescription habits, and consequently a decline in opioid related health problems (which include overdose deaths among a host of other complications).
Still, there is a hangover and we have chronic pain, and opioid addiction, to deal with real time, and in an ongoing manner.
Dealing with chronic pain is of primary concern to the workers' compensation industry. If we can't remedy chronic pain then claims never close, and consequently end up worse and more costly.
Today I'm hosting a free 2 hour webinar: "We're Beating Back Opioids - Now What?"
In addition to white paper author Peter Rousmaniere, my guests include CompPharma's Joe Paduda, David Hanscom, MD, Michael Shor, MPH, and Webility's Jennifer Christian, MD. These folks are on the leading edge of chronic pain research and remedies, and will present strategies for the claims industry to deal with chronic pain, opioid addiction, and moving on to the next chapter in the lives of traumatically injured workers.
Registration for the webinar, which starts at 1 p.m. Pacific Time is at https://www.workcompcentral.com/education/course/course_pk/958.
I hope you'll join us.