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CMS will target hotspots with coronavirus inspections
The CMS on Monday announced that it's going to carry out targeted infection control surveys using a new inspection process developed for the novel coronavirus.
Surveyors will focus on "immediate jeopardy" situations that present a pressing danger to patients. The agency will use information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help identify existing and potential hotspots.
Nursing homes, hospitals and other providers will also have access to a voluntary self-assessment the CMS created to ensure they're correctly screening staff members, practicing good hygiene and following other precautions necessary for controlling the spread of COVID-19.
The new inspection process and voluntary self-assessments incorporate lessons learned from the coronavirus outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington and newly available data. The inspection protocol applies to Medicare-participating healthcare providers, according to a CMS official.
"This will allow us to focus inspections on the most urgent situations," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during a call with reporters.
The agency hopes that voluntary self-assessments will supplement the government's inspection efforts if state inspectors are unavailable or a healthcare facility has coronavirus cases, but inspectors can't be on-site.
"Nursing home residents and their families who want to be sure that a nursing home is safe should not hesitate to ask staff directly 'What are the results of your CMS self-assessment?'" Verma said.
Kirkland's Life Care Center was notified by the CMS on March 18 that the agency will terminate its participation in federal health programs within 23 days unless the nursing home solves the immediate dangers posed to residents, Verma said. The CMS will require the nursing home to submit a corrective action plan to the agency, and it will perform a surprise inspection "soon."
At least 148 nursing homes in 27 states have confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the CDC.
Earlier this month, the CMS ordered accrediting organizations to focus on infection control protocols and abuse allegations during inspections. The Joint Commission, a healthcare accreditation organization, recently suspended on-site inspections for hospitals and other providers.
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