For months, KX News has been reporting on opioids prescribed to injured workers.
The narcotics given to these injured workers are funded by North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance.
Over the past few months, we’ve heard from several workers who feel they have no other options for pain management after years of doctors visits and multiple injuries.
KX News has spoken with WSI, we’ve heard from lawmakers and doctors about where this issue stems from.
Today, we sat down with a lawyer who has been working with workers compensation clients for over 30 years.
He says the chronic pain his clients are dealing with almost always comes with depression, and he doesn’t believe they have access to the full spectrum of care they deserve under WSI.
Attorney Steve Little says, “Chronic pain, that just doesn’t go away. To me that stuff is like battery acid, it just chews through people. There has to be a way of dealing with it, and it just seems like opioids are the first choice, and maybe they shouldn’t be.”
Little says he never planned on doing this kind of work, but people keep coming to him for help.
He’s noticed several trends over the years, being the middle man between the injured worker and WSI.
The first is he says WSI will look at medical records back to birth, to try to attribute the injury to something other than work.
He’s also noticed with his disabled clients, they lose their total disability benefits after two years, regardless of condition. After 5 years, he says they lose all disability benefits.
Little says this wasn’t the case when he first started.
Little explains, “If someone had told me back when I first started in ’85, that that was the golden age for injured workers, I would’ve laughed. I mean that was a joke, not so much anymore. I think it’s gotten a lot worse.”
Little says one thing is noticed across most of his clients, they’re all the hardest workers in the room.