Prescription Opioid Overdose and Adverse Effect Hospitalizations among Injured Workers in Eight States (2010–2014)
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Prescription Opioid Overdose and Adverse Effect Hospitalizations among Injured Workers in Eight States (2010–2014)

Filetype[PDF-112.51 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Occup Environ Med
    • Description:

      High-risk opioid prescribing practices in workers’ compensation (WC) settings are associated with excess opioid-related morbidity, longer work disability, and higher costs. This study characterizes the burden of prescription opioid-related hospitalizations among injured workers.


      Hospital discharge data for eight states (Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Utah, Washington) were obtained from the State Inpatient Databases, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. We calculated five-year (2010–2014) average annual rates of prescription opioid overdose/adverse effect hospitalizations. Injured workers were identified using payer (WC) and external cause codes.


      State-level average annual prescription opioid overdose/adverse effect hospitalization rates ranged from 0.3 to 1.2 per 100 000 employed workers. Rates for workers ≥65 years old were two to six times the overall rates. Among those hospitalized with prescription opioid overdose/adverse effects, injured workers were more likely than other inpatients to have a low back disorder diagnosis, and less likely to have an opioid dependence/abuse or cancer diagnosis, or a fatal outcome. Averaged across states, WC was the primary expected payer for <1% of prescription opioid overdose/adverse effect hospitalizations, versus 6% of injury hospitalizations.


      Population-based estimates of prescription opioid morbidity are almost nonexistent for injured workers; this study begins to fill that gap. Rates for injured workers increased markedly with age, but were low relative to inpatients overall. Research is needed to assess whether WC as payer adequately identifies work-related opioid morbidity for surveillance purposes, and to further quantify the burden of prescription opioid-related morbidity.

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