Report: 3% of Doctors Write Majority of Pain Rx for Workers’ Comp
Three percent of physicians who treat patients under California's workers' compensation system are responsible for writing more than half of prescriptions for the strongest and most addictive pain medications, according to a recent study by the California Workers' Compensation Institute, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Researchers based the study on data from health insurance companies and administrators in the workers' compensation system. The data covered claims filed between 2005 and 2009.
The report looked at prescriptions for "Schedule II" drugs -- such as codeine, fentanyl and methadone -- which are approved for medical use, but have a high potential for misuse.
Alex Swedlow -- an author of the report and executive vice president of CWCI --Â said, "The top prescribers, which represent about 279 physicians, are driving two-thirds of all the payments -- two out of every three dollars -- for these drugs."
The report found that theÂ number of Schedule II drugs prescribed for workers' compensation claims in California has increased from 1.4% of all prescriptions in 2005 to 7.2%Â of all prescriptions in 2009, a 414% increase.
During that same time period, workers' compensation payments for Schedule II drugs increased from 3.8% of total drug costs to nearly 24% of total drug costs, a 521% increase.
According to CWCI, injured workers who take the most potent pain medications have a recovery period that averages 119% longer than the recovery period for those who receive no narcotics or very low doses of the drugs (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.