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Analysis

CMS Tells Providers to Activate Infection Control Practices

By John Commins  
   March 05, 2020

CMS also ordered state regulators and accrediting organizations to immediately inspect thousands of Medicare-participating healthcare facilities and focus on infection control.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has ordered hospitals and nursing homes to ensure that infection control procedures are in place to address the spread of the Coronavirus.

In a series of three memoranda issued Wednesday, CMS also ordered state regulators and accrediting organizations to immediately inspect thousands of Medicare-participating healthcare facilities and focus exclusively on infection control and other serious health and safety threats, such as patient abuse.

Healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid already are already required by statute to ensure they have in place infection control procedures. Nonetheless, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the memoranda issued this week "represent a call to action across the healthcare system."

"All healthcare providers must immediately review their procedures to ensure compliance with CMS' infection control requirements, as well as the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ," she said.

"We sincerely appreciate the proactive efforts of the nursing home and hospital associations that have already galvanized to provide up-to-the-minute information to their members. We must continue working together to keep American patients and residents safe and healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Under the inspection memorandum, state survey agencies will look for:

  • All immediate jeopardy complaints (a situation in which entity noncompliance has placed the health and safety of recipients in its care at risk for serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death or harm) and allegations of abuse and neglect;
     
  • Complaints alleging infection control concerns, including facilities with potential COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses;
     
  • Statutorily required recertification surveys (Nursing Home, Home Health, Hospice, and ICF/IID facilities);
     
  • Any re-visits necessary to resolve current enforcement actions;
     
  • Initial certifications;
     
  • Surveys of facilities/hospitals that have a history of infection control deficiencies at the immediate jeopardy level in the last three years;
     
  • Surveys of facilities/hospitals/dialysis centers that have a history of infection control deficiencies at lower levels than immediate jeopardy.

The memorandum also includes protocols providers must take when COVID-19 is identified or suspected that include working with CMS and CDC.

The other two memoranda answer procedural questions that nursing homes and hospitals may have, such as how to screen patients and staff for the virus, and how to transfer patients diagnosed with the virus between nursing homes and hospitals.

“Today’s actions, taken together, represent a call to action across the healthcare system.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The memorandum also includes protocols providers must take when COVID-19 is identified or suspected that include working with CMS and CDC.

CMS is also addressing questions that care venues may have, such as how to screen patients and staff for the virus, and how to transfer patients diagnosed with the virus between nursing homes and hospitals.


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