For decades, higher doses of opioid painkillers have been prescribed, causing North Carolina to experience an opioid epidemic. According to NC Health and Human Services, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses from 1999 to 2016. Not only is it a major devastation to families and the community, but it’s also overwhelming medical providers and hurting prevention and treatment methods.
In the world of workers’ compensation, employers are also facing this issue head-on when it comes to injured employees using prescription opioid painkillers as part of their treatments. A study found that more than 800 people on workers’ compensation died of an overdose over a four-year time frame. As a result, the North Carolina Industrial Commission has proposed new rules that aid in decreasing addiction and overdoses with injured workers. These rules would limit injured workers to take the lowest, while still effective dosages, or for no more than 30 days at a time if they’re being treated for chronic pain. Employees would also be required to take urine tests if they’re using prescribed opioids for more than 35 to 37 days at a time. Their health care providers would also have to determine if employees taking opioids for a longer period are at risk of overdose or other opioid-related health complications. Another rule is for health care providers to suggest prescribing other drugs that reverse the effects of overdosing in case of risk. Finally, health care providers would also be encouraged to prescribe other forms of treatment such as physical therapy, acupuncture, and other pain treatment to decrease opioid use.
If these new rules pass, they’ll be more consistent with recent state laws that more closely regulate prescribing painkillers, known as the STOP Act. The proposed rules must first be approved by the Rules Review Commission before the NC Industrial Commission can implement them. The first hearing is planned for March 2nd and the Rules Review Commission is accepting written comments about the matter until March 19th. May 1st is the earliest date that the new rules could go into effect.
The opioid epidemic in North Carolina has been an ongoing, complicated problem with no easy solution. We at Prior, Criner & Edwards Attorneys look forward to the hearing in March and hope that the Rules Review Commission approves these latest proposed rules. Until then, we’ll continue to aid those seeking workers’ compensation for their injuries and get the medical treatment they’re promised. Contact us if you have any questions, we’re here to help!
Our attorneys specialize in workman's comp, personal injury, and dispute resolution services.
We have have a long history of building long-term client relationships founded on trust and mutual respect.
With over 25 years of experience in civil litigation and thousands of cases mediated, Frank specializes in the fields of workers compensation and personal injury law.
Sherman Lee Criner
Sherman is Licensed to Practice Law in North and South Carolina. He has extensive education in law and the mediation practice, professional experience and impressive memberships in many noteworthy political, civic and business organizations.
Ashley M. Edwards
Ashley is a NC attorney and certified mediator in North and South Carolina, Ashley has represented hundreds of clients and mediated thousands of cases for attorneys, insurance carriers and private companies.
“These guys are awesome and care about their clients very much. I would suggest anyone hurt on the job to contact them. Cannot express my appreciation enough to them!"
“Ashley Edwards genuinely cares about his clients and holds himself to the highest standards in all of his professional interactions. I am happy to recommend him to anyone who needs help navigating the workers compensation process."
“Ashley has been practicing compensation law in the greater Wilmington area for 15+ years. I have often turned to him for advice and counsel. He knows the law, is trustworthy, listens to his clients, and fights to do the right thing for them. He is my first call!"
“Mr Edwards made my case feel like it was his most important case. He is so caring and attentive."
“This was the first and only law firm I contacted after being injured. Everyone there has been on point concerning my case and extremely professional. I highly recommend contacting workers comp first if injured. It will be as if it's the most important case they have and they will not disappoint. Thank you to the entire team."
“Wonderful Experience under difficult circumstances. They helped me understand my rights and options under the law. Mr. Edwards took the time to help and meet with me whenever I had questions. He is highly recommended for his expert advice and service. "
“This is the place to go if you get hurt on the job Ashley and his paralegal Janet are really nice and super easy to talk to and they take the time to really listen to your problems and get you the help you need and deserve."
“They came out took out time to listen very smart he knows what he's talking about he heard me out and took my case under difficult sircumstances and i highly advise this is the law firm to consider."
“Sherman is one of the best mediators that I know---he is extremely proficient in Workers' Compensation Law and he is an outstanding communicator. I give Sherman my highest rating!"
“Great Experience with a caring lawyer who took the time to actually meet with me. He handled my case to the end and explained everything. Highly recommended."
“Ashley is very knowledgeable and relatable to his clients, to opposing counsel, and to all parties when acting as mediator. "
“Ashley didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear but he always told me the truth. He is very knowledgeable and professional... I would highly recommend Ashley if you feel the need to hire an attorney. "
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