A study investigating workers’ compensation in Missouri found that injured workers in rural areas were more likely to be prescribed opioids than urban workers. The discrepancy is not insignificant, though there are numerous factors that could be in play.
Study Investigates Opioid Prescriptions After Workplace Injuries
The study was conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. It looked at pain medication prescriptions made between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, and covered 27 states, including Missouri.
In all, the data for the study included no fewer than 1.4 million pain prescriptions. It broke down the numbers by the type of injury and worker, the industry the worker was in at the time of the injury, and where it happened.
Rural Workers More Likely to Get Opioids After Workplace Injury
One of the most telling trends in the study was that injured workers in rural areas were more likely to be prescribed opioids than hurt workers in urban settings.
68 percent of injured workers in parts of the country that were described as “very rural” received a prescription for opioid painkillers over the course of the study. 33 percent of hurt workers in these areas got two or more prescriptions.
Meanwhile, in urban areas, only 54 percent of workers that were hurt in a workplace accident got an opioid prescription, and only 27 percent got two or more.
Distance to a Specialist and Severity of Injuries Could Be at Play
Two factors that could be influencing the numbers are the distance that rural patients have to go to see a specialist, and the severity of the injuries that led to their workers’ compensation claim.
Rural workers are, by definition, far from cities like St. Joseph or Kansas City. It is in these cities that specialist doctors and surgeons congregate. With so far to go, and with the added expense of missing work while they see a specialist, rural workers can struggle to schedule an appointment soon after their workplace injuries, even if those injuries are painful and severe. As a result, the local doctors and general practitioners that injured workers see first can lean heavily on prescription painkillers, including opioids, to minimize the hurt worker’s discomfort in the meantime.
Additionally, rural employees frequently work in risky industries, like agricultural and food processing. The severity of the injuries that they suffer is often significantly higher than what urban workers face on a daily basis. With more severe injuries, the need for prescription painkillers would grow, as well.
Smith Law Office: Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in St. Joseph
The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office represent hurt workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, and western Missouri. If you have gotten hurt on the job and want to make sure you get the financial coverage you deserve, contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.