Published on
Last updated on

Will new rules cut injured NY workers off from pain meds they need?

The new medical treatment guidelines implemented by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) have caused a great deal of confusion – to put it mildly.  One concern we’re hearing about is whether or not injured workers on long-term narcotic pain meds will have their medications discontinued.


This is a big worry for some injured New York workers, as certain types of injuries are so serious that they cause severe, persistent pain.  Sometimes the only relief these workers get is to take narcotics or other powerful pain medications.  The new medical treatment guidelines do address narcotics use, but the WCB has clarified the guidelines in a bulletin.


Here is what you need to know about narcotic pain medications:

  • Narcotic prescriptions given out after December 1, 2010 have a maximum duration of 2 weeks.
  • Narcotics can be prescribed for longer than two weeks, but the reason for their use must be documented and justified.  If properly documented and justified, a variance is not required.
  • Workers who have been receiving narcotics before December 1, 2010 will continue to receive them, and they will be filled by pharmacies and paid for by their carrier without a variance.
  • Further guidelines for long-term narcotics use will be developed in the future.


The NY workers’ comp system is already tough to understand, and we know that injured workers are worried about the impact of these new guidelines.  If you suspect you are not being treated fairly, if you think that your employer or insurance carrier is misinterpreting the guidelines, or if you just need help understanding it all, please call us immediately toll-free at 866-205-2415 or locally at 914.946.1452.