Key Takeaways

  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently implemented actions to limit the spread of the coronavirus in health care facilities

  • CMS is requiring state survey agencies and accrediting organizations to focus their facility inspections exclusively on issues related to infection control and serious health and safety threats

  • In addition, CMS is requiring all health care providers to immediately review their procedures to ensure compliance with both CMS’ infection control requirements and the guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

On March 4, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented actions to limit the spread of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in health care facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals. “Today’s actions, taken together, represent a call to action across the health care system,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

To optimize infection control procedures, CMS is requiring state survey agencies and accrediting organizations to focus their facility inspections exclusively on issues related to infection control and serious health and safety threats, such as abuse. The motivation behind this shift in approach is to allow inspectors to focus their attention on the spread of COVID-19 in health care facilities.

Under the revised procedures, inspectors will temporarily focus their surveys on immediate jeopardy complaints, complaints alleging infection control concerns, statutorily-required recertification surveys, necessary visits to resolve current enforcement actions, initial certifications, surveys of facilities/hospitals with a history of infection-control deficiencies at the immediate jeopardy level in the past three years, and surveys of facilities/hospitals/dialysis centers with a history of infection control deficiencies at lower levels than immediate jeopardy.

Further, CMS is requiring all health care providers to immediately review their procedures to ensure compliance with both CMS’ infection control requirements and the guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, CMS announced it will be deploying an infection-prevention specialist to CDC’s Atlanta headquarters to assist with the real-time development of procedures and protocols.