July 28, 2014
Prescription medications and workplace safety – key strategies for employers
Over the past few years, the state of Ohio has placed an increased emphasis on controlling prescription medication misuse and abuse. You may have heard reports about physicians being investigated and clinics being closed as a result. It is a problem long in the making and its implications extend far beyond workers’ compensation. Ohio employers have a tremendous stake in this issue as it relates to the general health and well-being of their employees, and the possible multi-faceted impact on workers’ compensation claims.
As a managed care organization, CompManagement Health Systems (CHS) is deeply involved in the actual treatment plans for injured employees as determined by the treating physicians, but the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) utilizes a different entity to provide utilization oversight on prescription medications involved in claims. We do receive information from BWC on the specific medications and the details are also available to our clients.
Employers have the right to know the medications being prescribed to an employee for a workplace injury and it is important to be aware of them. There is an odd contradiction when medications are prescribed to treat a workplace injury – they may reduce the pain and allow an employee to return to work, but they can also impede their ability to safely perform their job.
This situation amplifies the importance of communication between medical providers and the managed care organization (as well as BWC) throughout the life of a claim. A written job description is an important tool for claims management at any stage of the process, and an easy way to ensure that physicians are aware of the specific job duties and conditions that the employee must be prepared to return to. Adding the options you have for job modifications to accommodate light duty (transitional work) is a best practice for a safe, timely return to work and permits the provider to make an informed decision.
Open discussions with your disability management team about the specific medications being prescribed to your injured employees and strategies for resolving barriers that they may create are paramount for successful case management. There may be alternatives to prescribed medications (especially narcotics) that control pain and inflammation, while allowing the employee to work safely and effectively. CHS has also been very proactive and successful in identifying questionable prescriptions and referring them to BWC for further review. Nearly 75% of the referrals we make to BWC for drug utilization review have resulted in either termination of the medication or an amended approval regarding reasonable, appropriate medications for the injury.
If you have questions or would like to review a prescription medication report for your claims, please contact your CHS Account Executive or call our customer service team at 888-247-7799.