CMS Issues Updated Guidelines for Long Term Care Facilities in COVID-19 Crisis

04.23.2020 Written by Norris Cunningham, Kathryn 'Katie' Cordell, Christina L. Essex

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an updated requirement with respect to notification of COVID-19 among residents and staff in long term care facilities. The requirement is already in existence, but CMS is now reinforcing the requirement as follows. Please note that official rules will be forthcoming.

Current requirements at 42 CFR 483.80 and CDC guidance specify that nursing homes notify State or Local health department about residents or staff with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, residents with severe respiratory infection resulting in hospitalization or death, or ≥ 3 residents or staff with new-onset respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other. CMS and CDC will be providing nursing homes with specific direction on standard formatting and frequency for reporting of information through the CDC’s National Health Safety Network (NHSN) system.

CMS has also established guidelines for Facilities to notify their residents and representatives to keep them informed of the conditions inside the facility. At a minimum, once the requirements are in place, nursing homes must inform residents and their representatives as follows:

  • Within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19 or if three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours.
  • Updates to residents and their representatives must be provided weekly, or each subsequent time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified and/or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours.
  • Facilities must include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations in the nursing home will be altered.

Failure to report resident or staff incidences of communicable disease or infection, including confirmed COVID-19 cases (or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19), or provide timely notification to residents and their representatives of these incidences, as required, could result in an enforcement action against the nursing home by CMS.

Katz Korin Cunningham’s team of long-term care attorneys is available to assist you during these unprecedented times. Do not hesitate to contact us:

Norris Cunningham — 317-396-2562

Katie Cordell — 317-396-2549

Christina Essex — 317-396-2571

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