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NCCI report: Number and cost of narcotic prescriptions in Workers' Compensation rising

In a recent report, the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI) said there were an average of 0.79 narcotics prescriptions per comp claim in 2011, the latest data available. That is up from 0.77 in 2010 and 0.72 in 2009.

Meanwhile, the cost of narcotic prescriptions per Workers' Comp claim reached $59 in 2011, up from $58 in 2010 and $55 in 2009.

Frequency of claims decline; costs rise - NCCI

Lost time claim frequency declined by five percent during accident year 2012 according to the NCCI. That comes after a 0.9 percent frequency decline in 2011 and a 3.8 percent increase for 2010. NCCI also found that for accident year 2012, average indemnity costs increased one percent while medical costs rose by three percent. Frequency per payroll declined for all industry groups, most notably in contracting and manufacturing and for all employer sizes, with the largest declines for employers generating more than $100 million in payroll.

No-cost preventive services will not disqualify employers' CDHPs: IRS

A provision of the Public Health Services Act added under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers or their insurance issuers to provide certain preventive health care services, including FDA-approved contraceptive prescriptions, sterilizations, education and counseling services for women, as well as immunizations and certain pediatric preventive screenings and care services.

In a guidance notice, the IRS noted that the U.S. Tax Code already permits high-deductible health plans to waive deductibles for preventive care.

FDA requires new label warnings for opioid pain relievers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring new product label warnings for long-acting opioid pain relievers to combat prescription narcotic misuse, addiction and overdose deaths. The labeling requirements apply to narcotic pain relievers, such as OxyContin, often cited as significant drivers of Workers' Compensation costs.

Previous product labels related the prescription to moderate to severe pain. The updated language notes the drugs are for managing pain severe enough to require around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment when alternative treatment options are inadequate.

No employer penalties imposed for lack of health exchange notice: DOL

According to the Department of Labor (DOL) although employers should provide health care reform law model notices to employees about the availability of public health insurance exchanges by Oct. 1, "there is no fine or penalty under the law for failing to provide the notice."

NIOSH rolls out safety info for young working drivers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a new set of factsheets to help young drivers stay safe on the job: one for employers and another one for parents and young workers. Motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of work-related fatalities among young people (ages 16-24) in the U.S.

To download copies of the factsheets, go to and

NIOSH launches 'gateway' to safety data

A new webpage from NIOSH features occupational safety and health data for the public, industry and researchers. The NIOSH Data and Statistics Gateway includes surveillance data, statistics and other scientific information that can be downloaded, as well as links to NIOSH investigations, hazardous materials.

New study finds link between occupational safety and health and improved financial performance

In a study published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers found that those companies with superior management of worker safety and health have higher stock performance. The study compared the performances of companies that had won an award for effective injury and illness prevention with those of the 500 leading companies publicly traded in the U.S. stock market over a 15-year period. The safety award winning businesses outperformed the other firms.

Read more about the study.

AMA toolkit helps docs meet HIPAA rules

With major revisions to HIPAA federal privacy and security regulations, the American Medical Association has published a new toolkit to help physician practices understand and comply with the new rules.

The HIPAA toolkit and templates are available free to all physicians on the AMA website.

EPA launches online chemical safety database

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched a tool that aims to provide easier access to chemical safety and health data.

ChemView contains information on chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act, as well as access to EPA assessments and hazard characterizations on those chemicals. The tool allows users to search by a chemical's name, use, or health or environmental effect.

Study suggests 'it's never too late to quit smoking'

Quitting smoking may reduce heart attack risk to the same level as non-smokers, according to a study from Weill Cornell Medical College. Researchers used data from 13,372 people in nine countries in Europe, North America and Asia to compare heart attack risk among smokers and non-smokers.

Both past and present smokers had a higher occurrence of blocked arteries than non-smokers. However, at a two-year follow-up, former smokers had heart attack and death rates at the same level of non-smokers, despite the lingering artery damage. Conversely, current smokers had almost twice the rate of death compared to non-smokers.

DOL onsite FMLA investigations on the rise

A Department of Labor official has announced the agency intends to do more onsite FMLA investigations. In light of this, experts advise employers to conduct internal audits to ensure they are ready should DOL knock on the door.

Price discrepancy for medical services in Workers' Comp fuels legislative review - Wisconsin

Wisconsin surgeons performing the same arthroscopic knee surgery collected on average $1,573 from those with a group health insurance policy and $3,728 from those covered under the state's Workers' Compensation system.

The price discrepancy, reported in a recent study of medical payments in Wisconsin, is fueling discussion about the cost to businesses of Workers' Comp insurance. While Wisconsin's Workers' Compensation system is considered one of the best in the country, in an unusual move, several Republican lawmakers are conducting an in-depth review of the issue as part of a larger effort to make the state more business friendly.

Distracted walking leads to pedestrian injuries

The number of injuries related to using a cell phone while walking has more than doubled since 2005, even though the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during that time. More than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010.

California Workers' Compensation rates up 10% in first half of 2013

California Workers' Compensation insurers increased rates about 10% on average during the first six months of 2013 compared with the second six months of 2012, according to a projection released by the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.