After being alarmed by the incidence of overdoses and deaths among people in the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, an administrative judge for the Massachusetts Division of Industrial Accidents, Omar Hernandez, wanted to begin a program to help injured workers receiving treatment with opioids. According to a news article, Boston workers who suffer injuries in the course and scope of employment, and have settled claims for benefits, may receive information on alternative treatments for their pain. The program, which is voluntary, aims to reduce the use of opioids and other narcotics by working with care coordinators who can assist workers looking into medical treatment. The care coordinator is an intermediary between the injured worker and the insurance company, working to secure good alternative treatment options.
The program is used as a tool to change behaviors, which have been based on reducing the pain for injured workers in the short term by prescribing opioids. Instead, by understanding the long-term effects, workers and insurance companies can work to discover opportunities for better care and less addiction.
All workers’ compensation cases are handled by judges within the state Department of Industrial Accidents. This agency is within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Judges within the Department of Industrial Accidents noted an increase in overdoses and deaths due to opioid addiction, and they hoped the pilot would resolve cases swiftly, as a tool to fight an opioid epidemic.