For the first time on record, Americans are more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a car crash. The sobering statistic comes from a new report by the National Safety Council. The report puts the odds of dying of an accidental opioid overdose at 1 in 96, based on 2017 statistics.
The report is a grim reminder that employers need to turn their attention to addressing this crisis, which is being driven by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Mercer’s Dr. Mary Kay O’Neil has set forth four areas where employers can exert a positive influence – prevention, identification and harm mitigation, treatment and supported return to work. And perhaps one of the most effective strategies employers can implement to treat opioid use disorder is a cost-effective early intervention called medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This treatment is started right after an individual is safely detoxified from the drug. It provides a medication that reacts to the opioid receptors in a person but does not cause euphoria or cravings. Dr. O’Neill urges employers to require that their health plan members have access to MAT. Employer action on opioids can make a big difference and literally save lives.
Check out this article in The New York Times to read more about the National Safety Council’s report.