COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: CMS Needs to Continue to Strengthen Oversight of Infection Prevention and Control

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2022, the GAO posted its review (same title as this blog) of infection prevention and control in nursing homes.  The document is 61 pages in length. A corresponding 7- minute podcast is found here.

The CARES Act directs GAO to monitor the federal pandemic response. GAO was also asked to review federal oversight of nursing homes in light of the pandemic. Among other objectives, this report: (1) describes what data reveal about any changes in resident health before and during the pandemic and (2) examines infection prevention and control actions CMS and CDC have taken in nursing homes before and during the pandemic.

GAO (1) reviewed CMS and CDC documents, (2) analyzed CMS resident health data from 2018 through 2021, and (3) interviewed CMS, CDC, state survey agency, and nursing home officials in a non-generalizable sample of eight states selected for variation in factors such as geographic location.

GAO’s recommendations are found on page 33 of the report. They are:

  1. Establish minimum infection preventionist training standards.
  2. Collect infection preventionist staffing data and use these data to determine whether the current infection preventionist staffing requirement is sufficient.
  3. Provide additional guidance in the State Operations Manual on making scope and severity determinations for IPC-related deficiencies.

GAO’s conclusions are also found on page 33.

There are also numerous Appendices in this report that are very interesting and worth your time.

Please review and share this report with your team and colleagues. Infection prevention and control has been a red-hot issue for many years, particularly during this PHE, and it won’t cool off anytime soon. IPC is a matter of life and death!