By: Jay Patel, Research Assistant for Income Security Policy

Published: February, 2021

After a decade of devastation, policymakers are finally making strides to quell the rising rate of opioid related overdose deaths (ORODs). In 2018, there was a four percent reduction in ORODs and an increase in life expectancy for the first time since 2014; yet for the sixth consecutive year, unintentional overdoses accounted for a larger share of work-related fatalities than in the prior year. Further examination into this statistic reveals that workers’ compensation claimants face an increased risk of developing opioid related morbidity and mortality than workers filing through private insurance.

Though the relationship between work injuries, workers’ compensation, and opioid related overdose deaths is not well understood, several connections exist such as occupation; type of injury; opioid dosage; and post-injury depression. Assessing the broader, interrelated factors between these connections, workers’ compensation, and opioids presents a potential area for future research which can help reduce the cost of workers’ compensation claims, provide a boost to the economy, and ensure that workers’ compensation continues to adequately protect workers and their families.

[Correction Notice: In the original publication, there was an incorrect link made between opioid prescriptions and occupation in the sixth paragraph and a missing reference in the seventh paragraph. The correct information has been provided.]

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