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The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission has published Guidelines for the Prescription of Opiates, which were effective as of June 14, 2017. The Commission directed that all clinicians who prescribe opioids should follow the guidelines, but noted that failure to do so would not warrant denial of a service, except in limited instances identified in the guidelines. Among the contraindications to prescribing opioids beyond three months, the guidelines state that opioids should be discontinued if the medication has not reduced the injured worker’s subjective pain complaints by a minimum of 30 % or if he or she cannot function secondary to the medication’s side effects. The guidelines also instruct that clinicians should conduct random drug screens at least two times a year and note that monthly drug screens, which are not random, are not indicated.
The guidelines include recommendations to help clinicians detect injured workers who may be at risk for addiction and to ensure that injured workers are informed about the risks and benefits of opioids before beginning use. For example, the guidelines state that injured workers should undergo psychosocial evaluation, to include formal psychological testing, if they are placed on opioids for more than three months. The guidelines also instruct that, before beginning opioid therapy for chronic pain, clinicians should establish treatment goals with the injured worker, educate the injured worker about the potential risks and benefits of opioid therapy, and discuss how the opioid therapy will be discontinued when risks outweigh benefits.;
In addition, the guidelines make clear that treatment for addiction will be considered compensable where an opioid abuse disorder is directly related to the use of controlled substances that were prescribed for a workers’ compensation injury. The guidelines note that formal detoxification programs will not be required in all such cases, but would be appropriate where the injured workers would experience withdrawal symptoms.
About the Author
This article was written by Jennifer H. Scott, Esq. of Wise Carter Child & Caraway, P.A., a law firm with offices in Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Gulfport, Mississippi. Wise Carter offers legal solutions for a wide array of corporate, litigation, regulatory, administrative, and governmental matters, including representing employers, self-insured employers, and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation cases and related employment law and liability matters. Scott and her firm are members of The National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN). The NWCDN is a national and Canadian network of reputable law firms organized to provide employers and insurers access to the highest quality representation in workers’ compensation and related employer liability fields. If you have questions about this article or Mississippi workers’ compensation issues in general, please feel free to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 944-7722.