Today’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson, from The Jernigan Law Firm.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently joined many other states (i.e. Massachusetts) in tackling the issue of opioids in the workers’ compensation cases by creating a Workers’ Compensation Opioid Task Force. The goal of the task force is to “study and recommend solutions for the problems arising from the intersection of the opioid epidemic and related issues in workers’ compensation claims.” According to the Chair, “[o]pioid misuse and addiction are a major public health crisis in this state.”
As of last June, a study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) noted “noticeable decreases in the amount of opioids prescribed per workers’ compensation claim.” From 2012 – 2014, “the amount of opioids received by injured workers decreased.” In particular, there were “significant reductions in the range of 20 to 31 percent” in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas.
Additionally last March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain “in response to an epidemic of prescription opioid overdose, which CDC says has been fueled by a quadrupling of sales of opioids since 1999.”
Currently, the CDC’s recommendations for prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care will likely follow these steps:
1. Non-medication therapy / non-opioid will be preferred for chronic pain.
2. Before starting opioid therapy for chronic pain, clinicians should establish treatment goals and consider how therapy will be discontinued if benefits do not outweigh risks.
3. Before starting and periodically during opioid therapy, clinicians should discuss with patients known risks and realistic benefits of opioid therapy.
Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.
Nebraska, known for its conservative views, is considering legalization of medical marijuana. Sen. Tommy Garrett writes a passionate, persuasive and practical letter to constituents in support of medical marijuana.
“Bottom line up front: The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act (LB643) is all about making life better for Nebraskans who are sick and ailing. Period! Nothing more … nothing less. This is entirely about helping very sick people in need who deserve the right to a medication that treats their illnesses.” Sen. Tommy Garrett
Sen. Garrett is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and a registered Republican, and his views may surprise some people. He deserves credit for his advocacy on this issue.
Relief from chronic pain is one use for medical marijuana. Chronic pain is an all-too-common problem for injured people. Current treatment patterns with strong opiates have reached crisis status.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam now allow medical marijuana. It seems now is a good time to study and consider adding marijuana as an alternative to the very dangerous opioids.
Sen. Garrett put it this way.
“While Washington may be broken, Nebraska is not. States have rights and I trust that the decision makers here in Lincoln will join me in looking at the research and see that cannabis has demonstrated effectiveness in treating cancer, ALS, MS, Dravet’s syndrome and other terminal and debilitating illnesses. I’m doing this because stuff needs fixing.”
Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski has struggled with chronic back pain
Today’s post comes from guest author Hayes Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.
If you are a fan of college basketball, you probably know the accomplishments of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has led Duke University’s men’s basketball program for 35 years, including 4 national championships. What you might not know is that Coach K struggled with chronic back pain that culminated in a personal crisis twenty years ago, and a recent news article by Barry Jones for the News & Observer tells the story.
Coach K had back surgery for a ruptured disk in October of 1994 and was so eager to return to work that he didn’t take the necessary time to recover and he returned to work too soon. As his wife, Mickie, recounted, “Getting well was worse for him than being sick because he felt he had deserted his men.” She even had to give him an ultimatum: skip practice and see the doctor or don’t come home. In fact, his struggle got so bad that he decided to resign. Luckily, the athletic director convinced Coach K to take a leave of absence instead. “One of the things we’ve learned is the emotional toll that chronic pain takes. It just completely changes everything,” said Mickie.
Chronic pain can be devastating, physically and emotionally, and if it can take down Mike Krzyzewski and his family, imagine what it can do to the average working person. Employers, physicians and the injured employee should follow his eventual lead: listen to your body and get proper rest; don’t return to work sooner than you should; and don’t try to be superman.