Articles | Cases

Things you should know

Pennsylvania limits physician drug dispensing and establishes a prescription opioid database

Pennsylvania is the latest state taking action to limit physician dispensing and drug repackaging. The law caps reimbursement of repackaged drugs at 110% of the average wholesale price; restricts physicians from dispensing Schedule II controlled substances, such as oxycodone; and prohibits physicians from dispensing more than a 30-day supply of other medications. More than 20 states already limit physician-dispensing, cap the price of repackaged drugs or ban the practice. Hawaii, Indiana and North Carolina are among the most recent states to do so.

Other legislation establishes a statewide database to create a record of controlled substances that are prescribed and dispensed through pharmacies. Aimed at controlling the risks of drug addiction and drug diversion, doctors can access the database to learn whether a patient has had other prescriptions for opioid pain relievers.

Four states top list for prescriptions of Schedule II narcotics

Physicians in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey prescribed Schedule II narcotics to injured workers more frequently than physicians in other states, according to reports released by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI)

The studies, CompScope™ Medical Benchmarks, 15th Edition, look at 16 different state workers' compensation systems - Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The reports identify where changes in treatment patterns may be occurring; how medical payments per claim or utilization compare with other study states; or where, because of underutilization of medical services, there may be concerns about restrictions on access to care.

Workers not following safe handling guidelines for cancer drugs: study

Health care workers who administer certain toxic cancer drugs do not always adhere to recommended safety guidelines, according to a new NIOSH study.

The study's findings include:

The primary reason given for why workers did not wear gloves or gowns was "skin exposure was minimal." The results highlight the value of hazard recognition training, researchers concluded.

Hospital workers can be trained to spot potentially violent patients

Hospital workers can be trained on identifying risk factors for patient violence as well as how to lessen or prevent incidents, according to a new study from Wayne State University. Researchers found patient violence was frequent when needles were used, and when patients were in pain or discomfort or were being moved. The use of restraints, changes in care, interventions to protect patients or workers, and redirecting patients also led to patient violence against workers.

Researchers concluded, "Identifying catalysts and situations involved in patient violence in hospitals informs administrators about potential targets for intervention."

The study was published online Aug. 4 in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Measuring safety culture workbook

A new workbook from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), Strengthening Jobsite Safety Climate features eight worksheets that help assess safety culture and share ideas on how to improve it. The individual worksheets are:

The publication is geared toward construction managers, safety professionals and hourly craft workers.

Free online training for young workers

The Center for Young Worker Safety and Health at Georgia Tech Research Institute has launched a free online training program for young workers.

The program includes seven training modules for students, employers and their families. Each lesson takes one to six hours to complete. Topics include:

HHS adds to list of carcinogens

The Department of Health and Human Services has added four substances to its list of cancer hazards, according to the agency's 13th Report on Carcinogens.

Ortho-toluidine, which is used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides and dyes - has been listed as a known human carcinogen. Three others have been added as "reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens," including:

MIOSHA offers new matching grant program for small businesses

Lansing, MI - Up to $5,000 in matching grant funding is available for Michigan employers looking to purchase safety and health-related equipment. Program details are online.

National Safety Council: Over-the-counter pain medications are more effective for acute pain than prescribed painkillers

The National Safety Council released a white paper, Evidence for the efficacy of pain medications, compiling research showing the combination of over-the-counter pain medications ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more effective at treating acute pain than opioid painkillers. This paper presents alternatives that should be discussed with physicians.

Study ranks states by costs of workers' comp

The latest biennial study from the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services finds California tops the list with the most expensive workers' comp rates in the nation, while North Dakota again comes in last.

Adding urine testing reduces opioid use and costs for comp patients - study

According to new studies by Memphis, Tennessee-based Helios, formerly pharmacy benefit managers Progressive Medical Inc. and PMSI Inc., urine drug testing in coordination with clinical monitoring and oversight reduces the use of and amount paid for high-risk medications, including opioids, among injured workers.

Late-term medical costs lower for older workers comp claimants: NCCI

Workers younger than 60 have higher workers' compensation medical claim costs for medical payments made 20 and 30 years after their initial injury compared with those who are age 60 or older, according to a report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI)

The average late-term medical cost for workers born between 1951 and 1970 was $10,700, according to "The Impact of Claimant Age on Late-Term Medical Costs," 64% higher than the average annual late-term medical cost of $6,500 for workers born between 1920 and 1950.

Shift workers should avoid high-iron foods: study

A new study by University of Utah researchers show that dietary iron plays an important role in the circadian clock of the liver. Disrupted circadian clocks are the reason that shift workers experience higher incidences of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer, researchers believe. The body's primary circadian clock, which regulates sleep and eating, is in the brain. But other body tissues also have circadian clocks, including the liver, which regulates blood glucose levels.