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Painkiller overdoses may be covered by worker's comp

A new report by the National Safety Council concludes that some prescription drug overdoses suffered by employees may be compensable under workers' compensation insurance policies in Pennsylvania and nationwide. The report focused on opioid drugs, commonly called painkillers, which account for more than 25 percent of workers' compensation drug costs, according to recent statistics.

The report lists 15 court cases where employers were sued over painkillers prescribed to workers who were injured on the job between 2009 and 2015. The report said that injured employees are placed at an increased risk for addiction and fatal overdoses due to the widespread use of opioids among worker populations, and many courts have ruled that addictions and deaths resulting from this use was compensable under an employer's workers' compensation insurance policy.

According to the report, there are several things employers can do to mitigate the risks and costs associated with opioid use among employees, including the use of drug prescribing guidelines, pharmacy benefit managers and drug monitoring programs. It is also suggested that injured workers be educated on the risks of painkillers and screened for depression, a history of drug abuse and mental health conditions.

Most Pennsylvania workers are covered under their employer's workers' compensation insurance, which provides certain benefits in the event an employee is injured on the job. These benefits include compensation for medical expenses and a portion of any salary lost while an injured worker is recovering. Some injured workers find it helpful to consult with an attorney when preparing their benefits claim to ensure that all required documentation is included and all deadlines are met.

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