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Changes to pain treatment for injured workers begin today

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July 1, 2013

Tumwater – The Department of Labor & Industries has changed the amount of time doctors can prescribe narcotics (opioids) for injured workers without agency authorization from 12 to six weeks.

After six weeks, L&I insurance coverage for opioids will depend on doctors' use of best practices. The required best practices include monitoring whether workers are recovering their ability to perform normal activities and screening them for risks of side-effects or addiction.

"These changes will improve pain treatment for injured workers as well as their safety during recovery," commented Jaymie Mai, L&I Pharmacy Director. "For some doctors, measuring physical function and screening for risk may be new practices," said Mai.

Doctors can find everything they need to implement the new treatment guideline, including authorization forms and helpful tools, at Opioids.Lni.wa.gov.

Practicing physicians who specialize in treating injured workers and in pain management worked with L&I to develop the new L&I opioid treatment guideline. The changes are consistent with the Department of Health's pain management rules and are part of L&I's ongoing efforts to improve pain treatment for injured workers.

According to Mai, "We are pleased that high dosage levels have been coming down and we are seeing fewer deaths among injured workers due to pain medication."

Nationwide, since 2007 opioid-related deaths have exceeded accidental deaths due to motor-vehicles and firearms. Washington has been among the states with the highest rate of prescription opioid-related deaths.

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For media information: Barbara Davis, L&I, 360-902-4216

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Broadcast version: Changes to pain treatment for Washington's injured workers begin today. The Department of Labor & Industries has changed the amount of time doctors can prescribe narcotics (opioids) for injured workers without agency authorization from 12 to six weeks. After six weeks, L&I insurance coverage for opioids will depend on doctors' use of best practices. The required best practices include monitoring whether workers are recovering their ability to perform normal activities and screening them for risks of side-effects or addiction. L&I made the changes to improve pain treatment for injured workers as well as safety during recovery. Practicing physicians who specialize in treating injured workers and in pain management worked with L&I to create a new treatment guideline which doctors can find at www dot opioids dot lni dot wa dot gov.

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