NC Proposes rules for opioid use in workers’ comp cases

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The nonmedical use and abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid painkillers (Schedule II or III drugs) like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin, is a serious public health problem in the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), every day in the U.S., 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose. Among people 25-65 years old, drug overdoses are causing more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. The deadly opioid epidemic is a national concern. A new 2017 law requires the HHS to award grants to states to fight prescription drug abuse through training and continuing education of health care providers.


A year ago, North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) Chairman Charlton L. Allen established the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Opioid Task Force to study and recommend solutions for the problems arising from the intersection of the opioid epidemic and workers’ comp, seeking to reduce opioid misuse and addiction in workers’ comp claims. The task force spent several months on research and stakeholder collaboration in developing the proposed utilization rules. It also considered the recommendations of the Opioid Task Force and feedback received through preliminary public comment.


The NCIC proposed new rules aimed at reducing addiction and overdoses among injured workers and associated medical costs. The rules are related to the utilization of opioids, related prescriptions, and pain management treatment, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, reported the Insurance Journal. The goal of the proposed rules is to ensure that workers receive reasonable and necessary care, and to contain medical costs.


Under the new rules, injured workers who are prescribed opioids for pain for more than 35 to 37 days would be required to take urine tests. Their health care providers would have to determine whether those workers are at risk of overdose or other opioid-related health problems.


“Opioid misuse and addiction are a major public health crisis in this state,” said Allen. “Many injured workers are prescribed opioid medications as part of treatment for their injuries, creating a nexus between the problems affecting the general population and the workers’ compensation system.”


Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in wills and estates, litigation and settlements, with a focus on workers’ compensation and personal injury law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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