CMS Issues Information for Healthcare Facilities Concerning 2019 Novel Coronavirus Illness

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On February 6, 2020, CMS issued QSO 20-09-ALL.

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CMS expectations include:

  • Every Medicare participating facility in the Nation’s healthcare system must adhere to standards for infection prevention and control in order to provide safe, high quality care. As concerns arise with the emerging 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat, CMS encourages all healthcare facilities to carefully review the information provided by our partners at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Facilities must take steps to prepare, including reviewing their infection control policies and practices to prevent the spread of infection.
  • CMS recognizes the need to consider “emerging infectious diseases” in a provider’s emergency preparedness plans as required by the 2016 Emergency Preparedness Final Rule (81 FR 63860, 63862, September 16, 2016).
  • CMS also expects healthcare staff and surveyors (contractors, Federal, State, and Local) to comply with basic infection control practices.
  • CMS encourages the review of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use and availability, such as gloves, gowns, respirators, and eye protection. CMS regularly observes these infection control practices as part of the normal survey process and notes that applying the basic principles of hand hygiene and using appropriate PPE protects lives. Medicare participating healthcare facilities should also have PPE measures and protocols within their emergency plans, especially in the event of potential surge situations.

“To assist facilities in self-assessment and review of their own practices, CMS provides several resources listed below including online courses developed in conjunction with CDC, focusing on universal infection control practices.

In light of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance to serve as a reminder of the ways that patient information may be shared so that the protections of the HIPAA Privacy Rule are not set aside during an emergency: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/february-2020-hipaa-and-novelcoronavirus.pdf.”

Be sure to check out all of the resources provided on this notice.