The Lincoln Journal Star has run a solid series about the impact of opioid abuse in Nebraska. The series has done a good job describing the challenges of narcotic addiction in regards to mental health, behavioral health and the criminal justice system.
But the series has yet to address the impact that long-term narcotic use can have on physical health. From 11 years of practicing workers’ compensation law, I have found that long-term narcotic use from a work injury can often lead to digestive issues. This is often described as narcotic bowel syndrome or opioid-induced constipation. One of my clients incurred a $50,000 emergency room bill from a bowel obstruction related to taking narcotics prescribed to treat his work injury. These bills should and can be paid by workers’ compensation, but it can be challenging to get them paid, as doctors who treat these injuries may be outside the normal chain of referral for work injuries. They might also be unaware of why a patient is taking narcotics. Both of these factors might make it more difficult for an employee to obtain a medical opinion about the cause of the digestive problems that is sufficient enough to have those bills covered by workers’ compensation.
Very few studies have been done about the economic costs of opoid-induced constipation, but those studies are consistent with my anecdotal experience with my clients. One study showed non-elderly patients with opioid-induced constipation incurred medical costs that were 52 percent higher than non-elderly patients who did not suffer from opioid-induced constipation.
President Obama recently signed legislation designed to curb and treat narcotic abuse. Many other states have passed similar legislation. I hope that when Nebraska crafts legislation in regard to narcotic abuse that it recognizes digestive issues from narcotic use as part of the problem of narcotic addiction.
Today’s post was shared by the U.S. Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov It was written by Dr. David Michaels, who is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
Although there has been some social-media coverage, this has been my first opportunity to read this particular summary. By clicking through to the OSHA report (where it says “we published a report of our evaluation”) and reading the eight-page document titled “Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation” a person will gain some really helpful perspective and context for determining how effective this change in reporting “severe work-related injuries, including 7,363 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations,” according to the report itself, was.
The graphic that breaks down hospitalizations, and the graphic in the larger report that breaks down amputations, are really interesting reading just by themselves.
“Our two main goals for the new reporting requirement were to engage more employers in identifying and eliminating serious hazards themselves, and to allow us to better target our enforcement and compliance assistance efforts to places where workers are most at risk. After reviewing the field reports and associated data, we are confident that both goals are being met,” Michaels said in the blog post.
He also writes about how OSHA is now “more likely to cite for non-reporting, and we have increase the maximum penalty for not reporting a severe injury from $2,000 to $7,000.”
Although lawyers often use the results of an OSHA investigation to help a client’s case, an injured worker frequently has a workers’ compensation case whether there is an OSHA investigation or not. So please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to talk over the details of the situation that a loved one or you are in regarding a work injury or death. Have a safe, productive day.
In January 2015, we started requiring employers to report any work-related severe injury – such as an amputation or an injury requiring hospitalization – within 24 hours. In the first year, we received 10,388 reports, or nearly 30 a day.
Each report told the story of a man or woman who went to work one day and experienced a traumatic event, sometimes with permanent consequences to themselves and their families. But the reports also created opportunities for OSHA to engage with employers in ways we had never done before, and to ensure that changes were made to prevent similar incidents from happening to others.
We learned things that surprised us, encouraged us and sometimes disappointed us. Today, we published a report of our evaluation that features stories from our offices around the country and reflects on lessons learned in the first year.
Our two main goals for the new reporting requirement were to engage more employers in identifying and eliminating serious hazards themselves, and to allow us to better target our enforcement and compliance assistance efforts to places where workers are most at risk. After reviewing the field reports and associated data, we are confident that both goals are being met.
A few examples explain how:
In Chicago, a conveyor loaded with liquid chocolate suddenly started up as a worker was cleaning a roller. Her arm was pulled in and mangled so badly that she required a plate and skin grafting. To prevent future injuries,…