The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has declared skilled nursing facilities “ground zero” in the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to monitor and control the spread of the virus within SNFs, CMS this week released new reporting requirements for COVID-19 infections.
The new infection reporting protocol are based, in part, on recommendations from the American Health Care Association and Leading Age. The two industry groups had called on skilled nursing facilities to report COVID-19 infections in a more timely manner.
Under the guidelines, SNFs must:
• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any positive COVID-19 cases within the facility within 12 hours
• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any instances of 3 or more respiratory illnesses within the facility within 72 hours
• Update residents, as well as their families and representatives, of COVID-19 infections and mitigation efforts weekly
• Report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
• Continue to meet requirements to report infectious diseases to state and local health departments
• Fully cooperate with all CDC efforts to monitor the spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 reporting tools
To assist skilled nursing facilities with meeting the new requirements, the CDC will provide SNFs with a reporting tool. According to CMS, the reporting tool will be an important component in collecting national COVID-19 data to monitor the spread of the virus and coordinate infection response. Any COVID-19 data collected through the new reporting program will be made publicly available by CMS.
“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19. [This] action supports CMS’ longstanding commitment to providing transparent and timely information to residents and their families,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system and to efforts to reopen America.”
Improving your infection control program
Skilled nursing facilities can get additional help in monitoring COVID-19 symptoms and control efforts with ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH. This helpful application allows SNFs to enhance their infection control programs while adhering to all CMS requirements. Learn more about how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor COVID-19 prevention efforts.
Source: “Trump Administration Announces New Nursing Homes COVID-19 Transparency Effort.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. April 19, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-announces-new-nursing-homes-covid-19-transparency-effort
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