The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new emphasis on infection control in nursing homes and has fast-tracked a regulation to enforce COVID-19 reporting.
“In light of the recent spread of COVID-19, we are providing additional direction to nursing homes to help control and prevent the spread of the disease,” CMS stated in a memorandum issued recently.1
Some of the CMS actions include reporting requirements. “To ensure appropriate tracking, response, and mitigation of COVID-19 in nursing homes, CMS is reinforcing an existing requirement that nursing homes must report communicable diseases, healthcare-associated infections, and potential outbreaks to state and local health departments,” CMS stated.
In rulemaking that will follow, CMS is issuing a specific reporting requirement for COVID-19. “Failure to report cases of residents or staff who have confirmed COVID-19 and Persons under Investigation (PUI) could result in an enforcement action,” CMS warned.
The proposed reporting requirement will include a new mandate for facilities to notify residents, their representatives, and the health department about residents or staff with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; residents with severe respiratory infection resulting in hospitalization or death; or three or more residents or staff with new-onset respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other. This reporting eventually will be done through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Safety Network (NHSN) system.
“Currently, this information is provided optionally by nursing homes,” CMS states. “The required collection of this information will be used to support surveillance of COVID-19 locally and nationally, monitor trends in infection rates, and inform public health policies and actions. This information may be retained and publicly reported in accordance with law.”
At a minimum, once these requirements are in place, nursing homes must inform residents and their representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours.
“Facilities will include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations in the nursing home will be altered,’’ CMS states.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Upcoming requirements for notification of confirmed COVID-19 (or COVID-19 persons under investigation) among residents and staff in nursing homes. April 19, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-26-nh.pdf