Updates to Nursing Home Inspection Procedures Aim to Prevent Spread of COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the serious threat that the virus presents to the elderly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced updated nursing home inspections procedures. The updates include the creation of a facility self-assessment program and inspections that will target facilities identified as at-risk.
These procedures were implemented partly in response to cases of COVID-19 at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, a nursing home that is believed to be the initial infection site of the virus in Washington state. A report from CMS revealed that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows “147 nursing homes across 27 states have at least one resident with COVID-19.”
Typically, CMS conducts routine inspections to evaluate the conditions of nursing homes. Currently, the standard procedures are suspended to focus all inspection efforts on coronavirus prevention and response.
Self-Assessments Strongly Encouraged
In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the agency is advising facilities to conduct regular self-inspections to identify COVID-19 response readiness and update processes as necessary. CMS is providing an “infection control checklist” to nursing homes, as well as guidelines specifically related to the virus.“Providers and suppliers” will also receive the checklist and self-assessment information. The agency is advising nursing home residents and their families to inquire with facility administration about the results of their self-assessments.
Targeted Infection Control Inspections Investigate At-Risk Facilities
CMS and CDC are working together to identify elder care facilities that may be at-risk for new cases of COVID-19 and spread of the virus by using data from nursing homes that have cases currently. Nursing homes that are identified as potentially at-risk will be selected for targeted inspections, which will involve “a streamlined targeted review checklist to minimize the impact on provider activities, while ensuring providers are implementing actions to protect health and safety,” and “will consist of both onsite and offsite inspections.”
Complaint Inspections Focus on Immediate Jeopardy
Although standard inspections are currently suspended, CMS will continue to conduct complaint inspections in nursing homes labeled as “Immediate Jeopardy” facilities. CMS defines “Immediate Jeopardy” as “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.” In addition to the typical inspection procedures for “Immediate Jeopardy” facilities, CMS will implement their infection control review processes.
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