In summary, here are a few points under the new rules:
They are effective immediately to all injured workers in North Carolina under the Workers’ Compensation Act. However, there is an exception for employees on an ongoing opioid treatment plan for more than 12 consecutive weeks immediately preceding May 1, 2018.
They are not medical advice or a standard of medical care.
They apply to select controlled substances like opium, codeine, hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, fentanyl, methadone, and others.
They require health care providers to consider co-prescribing an opioid antagonist in certain situations (i.e. substance abuse disorder). Opioid antagonists block opioid receptors in the brain (e.g. nalogone or naltrexone) and are effective in treating substance use disorders.
They require health care providers to consider non-pharmacological treatments for pain like: physical therapy, chiropractic services, acupuncture, massage, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and functional restoration programs.
Health care providers may refer employees for an evaluation for discontinuation of a substance or for treatment for substance use disorder.
Waiver of the rules is possible upon written application of a party or upon the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s own initiative.