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Prescription drug addiction after workplace injury

Recent explorations of medical and workers' compensation case law in Pennsylvania and around America indicate that prescription drug addiction, in addition to being a serious societal problem, may sometimes accidentally result from medical intervention into workplace injuries. As such, the cost of the addiction and treatment may be covered under workers' compensation policies.

If someone gets injured at work, and then has to be prescribed pain medication as they heal, then it is possible that they might develop an addictive habit related to the medication. This is a larger issue with longer term injuries and permanent debilities. It also occurs because both patients and medical professionals are sometimes underinformed about the addictive properties of the medication that they prescribe.

This problem has expanded in recent years until it has become an important national medical issue. Research indicates that approximately one quarter of all prescription drug payments are for opioids. Although these are quite often prescribed appropriately during the course of treatment, it may be possible for addictions to develop from their use that persist after the treatment is complete. Approximately 15 cases have come before courts over the last six years that relate to a worker who harmed or even killed by an addiction that developed during treatment for a work-related injury. Courts have ruled that this was an injury that stemmed from their employment, so they were therefore eligible for compensation.

On-the-job accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, and workers' compensation benefits are in most cases extended regardless of whose fault the incident was. Those who have been injured in the course of their employment may want to have the assistance of an attorney when preparing and filing a claim.

Source: National Law Review, "Prescription Drug Overdoses May Be Compensable Under Workers' Comp", Cole Wist, 07/17/2015

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