Workwell, Narcotics, and Pain Management
How does Workwell manage pain with so much concern about use of narcotics?
It is hard to open a newspaper or any other source of news and not find an article about narcotics.
We thought readers would find it useful to learn how Workwell approaches this.
Workwell’s doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners have been concerned about the use of narcotics in the workplace for safety reasons, as well as the risks and benefits of using narcotics to treat pain for many years.
To avoid commercial drivers having side effects from narcotics, we have a policy in place to limit certifying commercial drivers who are being treated with narcotics.
We are also very careful in prescribing narcotics to our patients. We try to avoid prescribing narcotics to back pain patients completely, because research shows that these medications slow recovery.
Acute pain such as fractures, strains, sprains and lacerations many times have the same amount of pain relief when using a prescription dose of ibuprofen combined with Tylenol as they would with a narcotic, but with much less risk of complications.
There are times when a narcotic is appropriate for managing pain – such as significant fractures or after an operation. When this is necessary, we limit the dosage and number dispensed, and work to get the patient off the narcotic as quickly as possible. We use the tools provided by the state that allow us to ensure that patients are not getting narcotics from multiple providers. For patients who do require longer term narcotics, an agreement is signed to ensure appropriate follow up and monitoring is in place.
Workwell prides itself on using to full advantage treatments other than narcotics that can help patients minimize pain and return to full function more quickly. These include our in-house physical therapy and deep tissue massage, alternative medications, and when needed counseling, biofeedback, dry needling, chiropractic treatment, and electrical stimulation.
October 20, 2019
Paul Ogden, MD, MSPH
Chief Medical Officer
Board Certified in Occupational Medicine, Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine