California State Workers’ Comp Fund: Opioid Prescriptions Reduced by 60%

June 11, 2018

State Compensation Insurance Fund, California’s stable provider of workers’ compensation insurance, reported that it had significantly reduced the number of opioid prescriptions for injured workers by 60 percent since launching its opioid-reduction program in 2014.

State Fund implemented a comprehensive opioid-reduction strategy that took a two-pronged approach, which included: 1) early prevention in new cases and 2) reduction of chronic opioid usage in existing cases.

“The opioid-reduction plan implemented by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, and his team has been remarkably successful,” said Vern Steiner, president and CEO of State Fund. “Through this effort, we have helped to improve – and potentially save – the lives of many injured workers, while also reducing expenses in the workers’ compensation system for California businesses.”

The strategy also included elements such as a peer-to-peer physician review program, education for injured workers and treating physicians, and a functional restoration program for injured workers taking chronic, high levels of opioids. Additional results include:

The number of patients taking high doses of opioids over the past four years has decreased from 1,458 to 186.
74 percent reduction in expenditures on opioids prescribed to injured workers covered by State Fund.
“Peer-to-peer education of prescribing physicians has been instrumental in the success of State Fund’s opioid-reduction program,” said Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, Chief Medical Officer of State Fund. “Not all providers have adequate training on pain management and opioid prescribing, and many patients don’t understand the impacts of their medications, which is why education about appropriate and alternative treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, has been a key focus area for our program.”

State Fund will continue to focus on reducing opioids by:

  • Expanding its chronic pain program to reach even more injured workers.
  • Adopting the Division of Workers’ Compensation guidelines, which limits initial opioid prescriptions to four days, and
  • Updating its online physician training modules for treating acute and chronic pain.

State Fund’s opioid-reduction program is one way the organization fulfills its purpose to provide fairly priced workers’ compensation insurance, make workplaces safe and restore injured workers.

Source: State Compensation Insurance Fund

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