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Prices for physician-dispensed drugs in Pennsylvania continued to grow rapidly

A new study, Physician Dispensing in Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition, from the Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found physician dispensing continues to grow rapidly in Pennsylvania. According to the study, physician-dispensed prescriptions accounted for 29 percent of all prescriptions and 48 percent of prescription payments in 2012-an increase from 17 percent of prescriptions and 17 percent of prescription costs four years earlier.

Hydrocodone-acetaminophen and oxycodone-acetaminophen products such as Vicodin and Percocet, are the two most commonly dispensed opioids by physicians in Pennsylvania and accounted for about 12% of all physician-dispensed prescriptions.

Office bullying plagues workers across races, job levels and educational attainment, according to CareerBuilder's new study

More than one out of four full-time workers have felt bullied by a co-worker in the office, according to a recent Harris Poll study for CareerBuilder. The study, which included a survey of 3,372 workers in a variety of industries, found that office bullying existed across races, genders, jobs and educational backgrounds.

Employees who reported higher rates of bullying included women, minorities and workers who earned less than $50,000 a year.

Examples of bullying included workers being:

Most bullying involved one person, respondents said, but 19 percent of those bullied said the incidents happened in a group setting.

CareerBuilder offered the following tips for dealing with an office bully:

EPA: Paint-stripping chemical is hazardous to workers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has identified health risks stemming from the use of dichloromethane, a chemical in paint-stripping products.

The agency recommends using products that contain DCM outside or in a well-ventilated area while wearing protective equipment. Additionally, check a product's label to see if it contains DCM or methylene chloride.

The assessment was one of three released on chemicals found in common household products. The agency found no health concerns related to antimony trioxide (found in certain flame retardants) and HHCB (a fragrance ingredient used in commercial and consumer products).

Study shows O*Net could help predict chronic disease

A recent study points to a positive and consistent relationship between O*NET ratings of physical job demands and the risk of contracting arthritis later in life. Importantly, the study also demonstrates the utility of using such O*NET job descriptors to estimate the long-term risks of contracting other chronic diseases and conditions when no actual exposure data is available. A summary of the report is available here.

High-deductible plans and wellness programs keep health care costs low

The move to high-deductible health plans by employers and greater use of generic drugs has been effective in limiting health care cost increases. In 2014, group health plan premiums for family coverage increased 3% to an average of $16,834 per employee, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of more than 2,000 employers. In 2013, premiums for family coverage increased an average of 3.8%. The cost of single coverage increased an average 2.4% to $6,025 this year, following a 4.8% increase in 2013, according to the survey.

In a recent Mercer survey, employers expected their health care costs to increase an average of 3.9% in 2015, after making plan design changes. While that projected increase is substantially higher than 2013's average increase of 2.1% - the smallest since 1997 - it still is lower than other recent years. For example, costs increased by an average of 4.1% in 2012 and 6.1% in 2011. The early survey results indicate that adding a consumer-driven health plan or other high-deductible plan to their benefits program will play a significant role in employers' cost containment strategies.

CMS to accept partial Social Security numbers in Medicare Secondary Payer cases

Starting January 5, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will allow payers in Medicare Secondary Payer cases to identify claimants with partial, rather than full, Social Security numbers according to this notice. Medicare Secondary Payer experts say claimants often are reluctant to provide full Social Security Numbers that are used to identify whether they have received Medicare benefits that must be repaid. In addition to providing the partial number, payers would need to provide CMS with a claimant's first initial, last name, date of birth and gender.

NIOSH updates list of drugs that pose a risk to healthcare workers

The new document, NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014, is the latest version of the hazardous drug list first published by NIOSH in 2004 as an appendix to the document, NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. Hazardous drugs on the list include those used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, some bioengineered drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs.

MIOSHA offering free streaming video on hospitality safety

Free videos offering safety tips and best practices for employers in the accommodations industry will be available to stream as part of a pilot program from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The pilot program will stream at least 12 videos ranging between eight and 22 minutes. These videos will be free to stream as often as employers like from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015. The program is being offered to employers in the accommodations industry with a North American Industry Classification System code of 721 and with fewer than 500 employees. It is limited to the first 30 establishments interested in participating.

Email or call (517) 322-1819 for more details.

Nebraska workers' compensation maximum income benefit increases to $761.00 per week

Effective January 1, 2015, the maximum weekly income benefit under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act will increase to $761.00. This amount applies to work-related injuries and illnesses occurring on or after January 1, 2015. The maximum is set according to a statutory formula.