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Nursing Homes COVID-19 & CDC Reporting: Ensuring Compliance, Accuracy & Consistency

May 1, 2020

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new rule (overview linked here and draft rule linked here) requiring nursing homes to report certain COVID-19 information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  CMS provided further guidance this week that reporting must be conducted through the CDC’s long-term care facility (LTCF) NHSN online module.  While the deadline for nursing homes to register with NHSN and begin reporting has not yet been released, we anticipate CMS will require nursing homes to begin COVID-19 reporting within the next week. More information regarding the NHSN module, including instructions for registering for the module, ​hard copies of the reporting templates, and detailed instructions, can be found here.

CMS will require all facilities to report to the CDC via NHSN, at least weekly, the following COVID-19 data points:

  • Resident Impact and Facility Capacity – facilities will be required to report:
    • The number of COVID-19 admissions ​(residents admitted or readmitted who were previously hospitalized or treated for COVID-19).
    • Residents with confirmed positive test results, including residents who may have been transferred or admitted to another facility or who died.
    • Residents who are PUIs (residents without a positive lab test, but who are  being treated or managed with COVID-19 precautions because of COVID-19 exposure and/or suggestive signs and symptoms).
    • Total resident deaths for any reason, both in the facility or at another location.
    • Total resident COVID-19 deaths (defined by the CDC as residents who died either in the facility or at another location, counting residents both suspected of having COVID-19 AND residents with a laboratory-positive COVID-19 test result).
  • Staff and Personnel Impact – facilities will be required to report both confirmed and suspected COVID-19 employee cases, COVID-19 employee deaths, and answer questions regarding staffing shortages.
  • Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment – facilities will be required to answer questions regarding its PPE supply.
  • Ventilator Capacity and Supplies – facilities will be required to answer questions regarding the availability of ventilators.

*Note that the initial reporting will be retroactive to January 1, 2020. 

CMS has indicated all reported information will be publicly available and is intended to assist CMS with its surveillance efforts of nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis.  ​

As with any federal reporting and surveillance, it is important that nursing homes develop a plan of action to ensure:

  • Quick compliance – Designate a point person within your organization to register for the LTCF NHSN online module as soon as possible and ensure that point person attends CDC training (training is slated for the week of May 4th, see more details here).
  • Reporting accuracy – Given that CMS plans to use this data for surveillance and it will be publicly available, it is vital that all reported data is accurate. Further, the NHSN reporting does not provide any space for narrative explanations, just hard numbers and check marks.  The designated point person within your organization should be in close communication with facility administrators prior to each weekly reporting to review reporting time periods, ensure accuracy, and to confirm there are no missing or double-reported cases. ​
  • Internal consistency – Many facilities have formed a COVID-19 task force or appointed a third-party responsible for internally documenting COVID-19 cases. It is vital for facilities to ensure that all internal reporting/documentation be consistent with CDC reporting.

Click Here to view more COVID-19 Resources

If you have any questions or need support in understanding and implementing the new CDC reporting guidelines, please feel free to contact our team by e-mail or calling:

Reed Bates: 205-868-6080 or RBates@starneslaw.com

Rick Harris: 334-669-3433 or RHarris@starneslaw.com

Kelly Thomas: 615-905-7198 or KThomas@starneslaw.com

Cat Kirkland at 251-445-4720 or CKirkland@starneslaw.com


This information is not intended to provide legal advice, and no legal or business decision should be based on its content. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. Read full disclaimer.

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