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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

IPs should prepare for CMS inspections in 2012

An unannounced inspector from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) walks into the hospital and summons the infection preventionist.

Looking down at a clipboard, he asks: “What were the last two hospital acquired infections that were serious preventable adverse events in the hospital, [meaning they caused] patient harm or death following development of the infection? What was done about each?”

Prepare now, because this is coming. Those questions and a slew of others are contained in a CMS draft document called “Acute Care Hospital Infection Control Tool for Surveyors” obtained by Hospital Infection Control & Prevention. The largest payer of health care in the country is rapidly developing a national inspection program for infection control in hospitals.

“We want to focus more on the bedside -- on the patients and procedures -- than has been done in the past,” says Daniel Schwartz, MD, MBA, chief medical officer of the CMS Survey and Certification Group. “We don’t want the surveyors sitting in a room scouring through policies and procedures for four to six hours.”

The draft survey for CMS inspectors is being trialed in 10 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. The tool will be refined as warranted based on the evaluation, with the final product expected to debut in all 50 states in October 2012. The CMS has created a survey tool for a sweeping assessment of infection prevention, using a patient tracer approach similar to the Joint Commission to follow key issues through the care process. The pressure is on, but infection preventionists who pivot toward this initiative by reviewing the CMS expectations -- and making hospital senior administration well aware of them -- are poised for empowerment.

For more on this important story see the December issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.