In late August, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, in a historic first, sent a letter to 2.3 million American health professionals, asking them to lead a national movement to turn the tide on the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic.
“I know solving this problem will not be easy,” Dr. Murthy wrote. “We often struggle to balance reducing our patients’ pain with increasing the risk of addiction. But, as clinicians, we have the unique power to help end this epidemic.”
The Surgeon General urged clinicians to visit a website his office launched in August, TurnTheTideRx.org, where clinicians can pledge their commitment to combating opioid misuse by enhancing education for treating pain. In 2014 alone, there were nearly 240 million prescriptions dispensed for opioids. In the same year, more than 14,000 people died from overdose of those drugs.
The Trust is encouraged and optimistic about Dr. Murthy’s efforts to bring this issue to light with all clinicians on a national level. Those of us in the workers’ compensation industry have been very concerned over the past decade with the enormous increase in opioid use among injured workers and its devastating impact on those who become addicted. Statistics clearly show that injured workers who remain on long term opioids tend to recover slower, remain out of work longer, and have a higher risk of addiction and depression. This issue is truly deserving of a national discussion and in the opinion of the Trust, is long overdue.