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Workplace injury: addressing the problem of opioid abuse for chronic pain

Opioid use and abuse has become an important issue in the United States, not only in the health care industry but also in the criminal justice system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared an opioid epidemic, partly because of the great number of fatalities associated with opioid use. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 78 Americans die every day due to opioid overdose.

Both the public and the private sector are exploring ways to address the problem of opioid abuse. One solution, used by insurance company Travelers, is its Early Severity Predictor. The program is aimed at identifying workers who are at risk for developing chronic pain and coming up with a customized treatment regimen to accelerate their recovery. 

The Early Severity Predictor reportedly works by taking information about a worker's employment, medical condition and personal information, assessing the worker's risk of developing chronic pain, and then identifying preventative actions to stave off chronic pain. According to Travelers, the Early Severity Predictor has been successful in getting injured workers back on the job more quickly than workers who do not participate, and has also helped to cut medical costs.

Chronic pain can be many things, but very often it involves things like back pain, neck pain, knee and joint pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal pain. Injuries to the musculoskeletal system are among the most common for workers to suffer. Workers' compensation does cover claims based on such injuries, but obtaining compensation isn't always easy. Sometimes the injured worker has to put up a fight. We'll continue this discussion in our next post.