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Study: Nearly 4% of state's injured workers become long-term painkiller users

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - About four percent of Wisconsin’s injured workers become long-term users of narcotic painkillers.

That’s 1 percent higher than in 2009 – but it’s still below the national median of 7 percent.

The figures come from a study done by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. It found that 1 of every 12 injured workers are still taking narcotic painkillers 3 to 6 months after they were first prescribed.

The report comes as health care experts re-assess the use of painkillers like Vicodin as a long-term treatment for chronic pain.

Critics have said that patients can easily get addicted to the medicines. The head of the research institute, Richard Victor, said the study also raises questions of how often doctors are monitoring patients who are put on long-term narcotic therapies.

The injured patients in the study did not have surgeries.

Victor said the study report should help government leaders, business people, and others learn how to help employees – while reducing health costs and avoiding narcotic addictions. 

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