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COVID-19: CMS says primary survey focus will be on infection control preparedness

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March 5, 2020

By A.J. Plunkett (aplunkett@decisionhealth.com) and Brian Ward (bward@hcpro.com)

CMS ordered its state and regional surveyors to suspend “non-emergency inspections across the country” to allow “inspectors to turn their focus on the most serious health and safety threats like infectious diseases and abuse. This shift in approach will also allow inspectors to focus on addressing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” This change takes effect immediately and until further notice.

The order was sent out late Wednesday in a Quality, Safety & Oversight Group memo, and followed up with two others on guidance for the prevention of COVID-19 in hospitals and nursing homes, specifically.

According to the memo, “Effective immediately, survey activity is limited to the following (in Priority Order):

  • All immediate jeopardy complaints (cases that represents 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.”

“Today’s actions, taken together, represent a call to action across the health care system,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “All health care 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 (CDC). 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.”

Keep up with the latest news on COVID-19 compliance expectations on Simplify Compliance’s Accreditation & Quality Compliance, Hospital Safety Center, and at Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare sites.

 




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