The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is suspending routine inspections to focus on issues related to infection control and COVID-19 in hospitals, nursing homes, and other accredited sites, a CMS official announced.

“[We are] suspending non-emergency surveys across the country so our surveyors can focus on the most serious health and safety threats like infectious disease,” said Daniel Schwartz, MD, MBA, chief medical officer, CMS. “Our colleagues in the accrediting agencies will follow this policy as well.”

Hospital, dialysis centers, and other facilities with a history of infection control deficiencies are still in line for surveys, he said.

In a March 4, 2020, memorandum, CMS said the action allows “inspectors to turn their focus on the most serious health and safety threats like infectious diseases and abuse.1 This shift in approach will also allow inspectors to focus on addressing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

According to CMS, effective immediately, surveys are limited to the following, which are listed 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, such as nursing homes, home health, and hospice;
  • 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.

If CMS inspectors identify or suspect COVID-19, they are to work with closely with CMS regional offices in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CMS has deployed an infection preventionist to the CDC in Atlanta to assist with guideline development.

REFERENCE

  1. CMS. Suspension of survey activities. March 4, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and/suspension-survey-activities