WorkSafeNB has changed the way it manages opioid prescriptions for clients recovering from workplace injuries.
Highlights from an updated policy that went into effect on September 29 include stricter monitoring, reducing the initial authorization period for opioid prescriptions from six weeks to two weeks, and limiting opioid dosages to 50 mg morphine equivalent per day.
Dr. Paul Atkinson, WorkSafeNB’s chief medical officer, said the changes come after extensive consultation with New Brunswick's medical community and the general public.
“The new policy aligns with feedback received and with provincial and national guidelines. We’ll be asking physicians to follow up with their patients after their two-week opioid prescription to authorize an extension when warranted.”
Opioids are a class of synthetic narcotic medications usually prescribed on a short-term for treating pain associated with injury, disease or surgery. However, a rapid increase in the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in North America began in the late 1990s and persists to this day.
Atkinson said that while opioids have therapeutic purposes, there are serious risks associated with their use including addiction, overdose and death.
“The research is clear that opioids are ineffective for chronic aches and pains and as such should only be used when absolutely necessary.”
WorkSafeNB continues to work with the New Brunswick Medical Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick and other members of the Provincial Opioid Prescribing Task force to encourage safe prescribing and dispensing of opioids in line with national guidelines.