Could a back sprain or a dislocated shoulder from trying to handle a difficult patient turn into opioid addiction and, eventually, death?
It’s quite possible. In this country, roughly one person succumbs to opioid addiction and dies every 12 minutes — and many of those people started down that road due to on-the-job injuries to their musculoskeletal system. At least one study (compiled from data on overdose deaths in Utah) indicated that 57% of those victims had one or more prior injuries at work — and most of those victims came from jobs that were physically demanding, like the health care industry.
Musculoskeletal injuries are problematic because they can happen very easily yet be very difficult to treat. They can also worsen over time with repeated injuries — often without the worker even realizing that he or she is receiving additional damage. This leads to chronic, painful conditions that affect a worker’s nerves, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, spine and cartilage. Hands, the lower back, the shoulders and elbows all tend to be heavily affected — which limits the victim’s mobility and capacity to work.
Many, naturally, seek whatever relief they can in order to keep working. Without painkillers, many victims would be without a job and unable to provide for their families, so it isn’t surprising that they’re willing to risk addiction over unemployment.
Musculoskeletal injuries and disorders are the second biggest source of disability in the entire world — and they’re on the rise. Victims often have to choose between cures that are ineffective and treatments that can leave them suffering from addiction on top of everything else.
If you’re a medical worker who was injured on the job or whose musculoskeletal condition worsened due to your work, there may be legal options that you can pursue.