Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced several actions with the intention of limiting the spread of COVID-19, the new Coronavirus. CMS is issuing a “call to action” to physicians, hospitals, health clinics and other providers across the country to ensure that they are implementing strong infection control procedures. Healthcare providers are required to maintain such procedures at all times, and CMS will be focusing on ensuring that healthcare providers are actually implementing these procedures.
CMS has instructed, until further notice, that State Survey Agencies and accrediting organizations (such as the Joint Commission and DNV), focus their facility inspections exclusively on issues related to infection control and other serious health and safety threats. Focus will initially begin with nursing facilities and hospitals. Specifically, CMS is suspending non-emergency inspections across the country, allowing inspectors to turn their focus on the most serious health and safety threats like infectious diseases and abuse.
Per CMS’ communication:
“Effective immediately, survey activity is limited to the following (in Priority Order):
- All immediate jeopardy complaints (cases that represent 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.”
This does not mean that hospitals and other providers should not strive to meet all federal and state accreditation requirements, but rather that healthcare providers that are not already doing so should turn their attention to their infection control policies, implement education internally and ensure that all policies are being complied with carefully.
Please contact MMM’s healthcare group for any questions or assistance.