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CMS to Focus Inspections on Infection Control Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

To curb the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced March 4 that facility inspections will focus exclusively on infection control and other critical health and safety issues until further notice.

In a memo to state survey agencies and accrediting organizations, the agency wrote it is suspending all other survey activities and outlined the system it will use to guide surveillance, which includes:

  • all immediate jeopardy complaints;
  • complaints of infection control concerns, including facilities with potential COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses;
  • statutorily required recertification surveys of nursing homes, home health services, hospice services, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disability;
  • necessary revisits to resolve enforcement actions;
  • initial certifications;
  • surveys of facilities with a history of infection control deficiencies at the immediate jeopardy level in the last three years; and
  • surveys of facilities with a history of infection control deficiencies at levels lower than immediate jeopardy.

The memo also includes inspection protocols and personal protective equipment guidance for surveyors of facilities with cases of suspected COVID-19.

Additionally, the agency released two memos about infection control for hospitals and nursing homes addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. These memos include guidance for:

  • screening staff and visitors for travel to countries with infected cases;
  • evaluating the need to hospitalize infected patients;
  • transferring patients between nursing homes and hospitals; and
  • taking precautionary measures for patients testing positive for or showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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