The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo detailing new guidance on focused infection control (FIC) surveys. The memo also includes several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and a list of F-tags and K-tags waived through the 1135 waiver authority during COVID-19.
New Guidance on FIC Surveys
State agencies are still required to conduct FIC surveys within three to five days after identifying a facility with three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases or one confirmed COVID-19 case in a facility previously considered COVID-free.
States are now required to consider additional factors in determining whether to conduct FIC surveys. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- An increase in COVID-19 cases over multiple weeks
- Low staffing levels
- Allegations or complaints of possible abuse or quality of care concerns
Additionally, facilities that have had an FIC survey in the past three weeks do not need to be re-surveyed again within a three-week period. They are eligible to be re-surveyed once this period ends.
The CMS also answered several FAQs and provided guidance on topics including:
- Protocols for surveyors while onsite
- Modifications on certain survey elements to prevent COVID-19 spread during the survey
- Adjustments to emergency preparedness (EP) and life safety code (LSC) survey procedures during the public health emergency (PHE)
The CMS also states that while surveyors should attempt to complete the survey process onsite, they should make attempts to conduct additional survey activities, such as phone interviews and document reviews, offsite.