In response to the threat of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a memorandum to State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations, suspending all nonemergency inspections of healthcare facilities across the United States.

Effective immediately, and until further notice, survey activities will focus on immediate jeopardy complaints, and allegations of abuse and neglect. As a secondary priority, the inspections shall focus on complaints alleging infection control concerns, including facilities with potential COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses. State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations must immediately begin focusing their inspections exclusively in these areas beginning with hospitals and nursing homes. The Medicare Conditions of Participation require hospitals and nursing homes to implement and maintain infection prevention and control programs to monitor, prevent and control healthcare-associated infections or other infectious diseases.

Nursing homes and hospitals should review their infection prevention and control programs and ensure that qualified personnel with expertise in infection prevention and control are on staff. In addition, the facilities must incorporate an antibiotic stewardship program as a component of the infection prevention and control program. Nursing homes and hospitals should review and update their programs where needed at least annually. Additional information regarding how these facilities should respond to the spread of COVID-19 is available on CMS website.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.