To test associations between several opioid prescribing policy interventions and changes in early (acute/subacute) high‐risk opioid prescribing practices.
Population‐based workers' compensation pharmacy billing and claims data, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (January 2008‐June 2015).
We used interrupted time series analysis to test associations between three policy intervention timepoints and monthly proportions of population‐based measures of high‐risk, low‐risk, and any workers’ compensation‐related opioid prescribing. We also tested associations between the policy intervention timepoints and five high‐risk opioid prescribing indicators among workers prescribed any opioids within 3 months after injury: (a) >7 cumulative (not necessarily consecutive) days‘ supply of opioids during the acute phase, (b) high‐dose opioids, (c) concurrent sedatives, (d) chronic opioids, and (e) a composite high‐risk opioid prescribing indicator.
Within 3 months after injury, 9 percent of workers were exposed to high‐risk and 12 percent to low‐risk workers’ compensation‐related opioid prescribing; 79 percent filled no workers’ compensation‐related opioid prescription. Among workers prescribed any early (acute/subacute) opioids, the indicator for >7 days' supply of opioids during the acute phase was present for 30 percent, high‐dose opioids for 18 percent, concurrent sedatives for 3 percent, and chronic opioids for 2 percent. Beyond a general shift toward more infrequent and lower‐risk workers’ compensation‐related opioid prescribing, each policy intervention timepoint was significantly associated with reductions in specific acute/subacute high‐risk opioid prescribing indicators; each of the four specific high‐risk opioid prescribing indicators had significant reductions associated with at least one policy.
Several state‐level opioid prescribing policies were significantly associated with safer workers’ compensation‐related opioid prescribing practices during the first 3 months after injury (acute/subacute phase), which should in turn reduce transition to chronic opioids and associated negative health outcomes.