L&I Workers Compensation and the Opioids Problem

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I’m going to be speaking about ethical considerations when representing opioid addicted clients at a conference next week. Ironically I’m in the midst of dealing with a significant opioid addiction issue in a current case.

While I think that the Department of Labor and Industries has a logical stance and good medical treatment guidelines for addressing the over use of opioid pain medications, I am disheartened by callousness of many professionals that come in contact with injured workers who may have an opioid addiction issue. All too frequently I see behavior that is unsupportive, judgmental, dismissive, unkind, and even mean spirited, resulting in despair and desperation on the part of the injured worker.

There is a well defined two (and sometimes three) step process for assisting injured workers in discontinuing use of opioid pain medications. Check out this article from L&I: https://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Files/OMD/MedTreat/FINALOpioidGuideline010713.pdf

We should not abandon our injured workers trapped in opioid addiction. We should treat them with compassion, respect, understanding, and with a genuine interest in helping them successfully overcome the addiction.

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