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Original research
Evaluation of the Minnesota Safe Patient Handling Act: trends in workers’ compensation indemnity claims in nursing home workers before and after enactment of the law


Objectives The 2007 Minnesota Safe Patient Handling Act aims to protect healthcare workers from injuries caused by lifting and transferring patients. The effectiveness of the law in nursing homes is unknown. This policy evaluation measured changes in patient handling injuries before and after the law was enacted. Additionally, it assessed whether effects of the law were modified by facility levels of staffing and retention.

Methods Workers’ compensation indemnity claims for years 2005–2016 were matched to annual direct care productive hours and facility characteristics (eg, profit status, hospital affiliation and region) for all Medicaid-certified nursing homes in Minnesota. Trends in patient handling claims were analysed using negative binomial regression with generalised estimating equations. The primary predictors were time period, staff hours per resident day and staff retention.

Results The patient handling indemnity claim rate declined by 25% in years 4–6 and 38% in years 7–9 following enactment of the law. Claims for all other injuries and illnesses declined by 20% in years 7–9 only. Associations between time period and patient handling claims did not vary by levels of staffing or retention. However, independent of time, facilities with annual retention ≥75% (vs <65%) had a 17% lower patient handling claim rate.

Conclusions Results suggest the law reduced patient handling claims in nursing homes. However, claim rates were elevated in facilities with low worker retention and those that were non-profit, not hospital-affiliated or in a non-metro area. Facilities with these characteristics may benefit from targeted state grants and consultation efforts.

  • health and safety
  • musculoskeletal
  • healthcare workers

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