Worker connects prescribed opioid use to low testosterone levels
Case name: King v. Butterkrust Bakeries, 18 FLWCLB 3 (Fla. JCC, Lakeland 2011).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims ruled that a worker's low testosterone levels were caused by his prescribed opioid use and that the employer must provide medical care and treatment for this condition.
What it means: In Florida, where a worker's treating pain management doctor provides convincing testimony that the worker's long-term, prescribed opiod use caused his low testosterone levels, other causes are unlikely, and the condition started when he was using such medication, the worker meets his burden of proving that the compensable accident was a competent cause of his condition.
Summary: The worker sustained a compensable injury and was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. He was treated with narcotic medications, including opioids for control of his pain. He came under the care of a pain management physician, who weaned him off the narcotic medications. However, while taking the medications, the worker developed symptoms of fatigue, muscle weakness, and erectile dysfunction, and was diagnosed with low testosterone. The parties disputed whether this condition was causally related to the medication usage. The JCC found that the worker met his burden of proving a causal relationship between his compensable accident and his low testosterone and ordered the employer to provide medical care and treatment for the condition.
The JCC noted that the pain management physician testified that long-term opioid use can cause low testosterone levels. He noted that the worker's low testosterone occurred during the opioid use and continued since that time. He also testified that he ruled out prostate cancer as a cause and, given the worker's young age, other causes were unlikely.
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April 11, 2011
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