7/13/2012

Easing the Pain

July's cover story on worker-related slip and falls comes on the heels of CLM’s mini-conference in June that examined other concerns of those in workers’ compensation. As we all know, there are plenty of them.

By Eric Gilkey

July's cover story on worker-related slip and falls comes on the heels of CLM’s mini-conference in June that examined other concerns of those in workers’ compensation. As we all know, there are plenty of them.

I drove up to Columbus, Ohio to hear the latest, and was surprised at what I heard. While chatting with one high-ranking claims professional and listening to another, it became clear that pain-pill addiction is a top concern. So-called “pill heads” start out being overprescribed pain pills, get addicted, and stay on them for years and years. Excluding the high costs associated with this practice, the deleterious effects the drugs can have on injured workers over the long term were extreme, especially given the fact that physiological and psychological addiction can take place in less than 30 days.

This discussion moved naturally into the importance of using evidence-based medicine when working with doctors. One panel’s advice was to utilize the MED metric—the morphine equivalent dose—which creates an easy comparison between common workers’ comp pain medication dosage to morphine. If you aren’t familiar with this metric and you’re managing workers’ comp claims, you have some homework to do.

I was also surprised to hear a call to embrace alternative treatments for pain management, including therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and even yoga and aqua therapy. My how times have changed.

While everyone loves to hate workers’ comp, these new strategies will hopefully ease the pain.



Eric Gilkey is executive editor of CLM Magazine, a publication of the Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance. He may be reached at 513-273-8025, eric.gilkey@TheCLM.org.

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