One interview away from infection control CMPs?

05.19.2021 Written by Norris Cunningham, Kathryn 'Katie' Cordell

With the roll out of vaccines and slowing rates of COVID-19 infections, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not shifted its survey focus away from infection control. Instead, the agency released new guidance to surveyors continuing focus on infection control during annual and complaint surveys, including additional F-tags.

This focus, while timely, will most likely extend the survey process and result in additional tags and possible civil monetary penalties. Of concern is the attention to interviewing staff members who might use the time to air grievances instead of looking at the facility as a whole.

Surveyors have been instructed to confirm that staff are performing proper general standard precautions, including respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette, environmental cleaning and disinfection, reprocessing of reusable resident medical equipment, mask wearing and hand hygiene.

Staff will be interviewed to determine if hand hygiene supplies (e.g., alcohol-based hand rub, soap, paper towels) are readily available and who they contact for replacement supplies. While this information would be expected to be known by all staff, it is possible that facilities could be found not in compliance if one staff member does not provide all the information upon questioning.

As broadcast nightly throughout the midst of the pandemic, personal protective equipment is a hot point for healthcare providers and now, surveyors. While PPE is now more available, staff will still be interviewed to determine if PPE supplies are readily available, accessible and used by staff, and who they contact for replacement supplies.

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