More than 5,000 people die in workplaces every year in the United States, most often from violence, exposure to toxic chemicals, or traffic accidents. Drug overdose is catching up, though, as the fastest-growing cause of death on the job, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of fatal overdoses from illicit drug or alcohol use in the workplace jumped 32% from 2015 to 2016. While the grand total of 217 is relatively small, the increase shadows the ongoing wave of addiction, largely to opioid pain medications and heroin. Shortly after the Bureau released its data, the National Safety Council urged U.S. employers to take a more systematic approach to ensuring employee safety, specifying that “having policies and training in place to address the major causes of fatalities as well as emerging issues such as prescription opioid misuse and fatigue” is warranted. Urgent care operators that offer occupational medicine services should be mindful of the data, and the National Safety Council’s recommendation, in designing programs for existing and prospective clients. That would include not only testing services, but treatment opportunities. ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care in Portsmouth, NH, for one, has gone on the offensive with a campaign to let the public know that it now offers suboxone medication-assisted treatment (MAT). ClearChoiceMD Chief Medical Officer Thomas H. Scott, MD notes that the capability to offer MAT reflects the flexibility inherent in the urgent care model. (JUCM published an original article on the dynamics of offering MAT in the urgent care setting in the November issue; read it here.)
Overdoses: Fastest-Growing Cause of Workplace Deaths—What Are You Going to Do About It?