Opioid Abuse Costs Businesses Millions

by Matt McCarty, M.D.

A survey by the National Safety Council taken in March revealed that 70 percent of businesses say that narcotic painkillers have affected their business. The NSC recommends incorporating the following steps to monitor the use of opioids in the workplace:

A clear, written policy: Together with a company’s legal department, a policy should be put in place — similar to a company’s restrictions on the use of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Employee education: Keeping in mind that the employee-patient relationship is a confidential one, employees should still be educated about the dangers of opioids in the workplace. The education process should include the dangers of operating heavy equipment while on medication, the risks of driving on pain pills, safe storage and the fact that they should not share their medication with fellow employees.

Supervisor training: Management should be current on the workplace’s prescription drug policy and educated on how to identify possible employee abuse. Managers need to understand that a person with a disability is protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and not infringe upon his or her rights.

An Employee Assistance Program: The cost of helping an employee who might have a problem with opioid abuse proves to be 25–200 percent more cost effective than replacing that person. Not only does a company suffer the loss of knowledge and production from an employee it might decide to terminate, it also is leaving someone in a dangerous position to himself or society in general.

Drug testing: Research has shown that drug-testing in the workplace brings down the number of accidents. Employers and those who are conducting the drug screens need to be aware that recently, with the easy access to synthetic urine over the Internet, those who are abusing drugs have found ways to skirt the system. Currently, only 14 states in the U.S. ban the sale and purchase of synthetic urine.

Matt McCarty, M.D. is a board-certified, fellowship-trained physician specializing in chronic pain management who recognized the growing need for medication monitoring and personalized medicine, and founded Genotox Laboratories, a rapidly growing national reference lab providing medication monitoring services through urine drug screen confirmations and pharmacogenomics testing

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