Are you part of the nursing home industry? If so, you will want to particularly pay attention to this week’s nursing home patient visitation rights post. But, if you aren’t, this is still important because CMS focuses on rights for ALL patients.
Nursing Home Patient Visitation Rights
CMS revised QSO memo 20-39 on March 10th this year, which was originally published on September 17, 2020.
Because of the continued expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination program, CMS is advising organizations to re-examine their policies on visitation, while still maintaining infection prevention practices.
1. The two main snippets from this memo that you will want to read are: CMS recommends outdoor visitation where feasible. BUT it also states, “facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents (regardless of vaccination status) except in a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission (note: compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times).
These scenarios include limiting indoor visitation for:
- Unvaccinated residents if the nursing homes COVID-19 county positivity rate is >10% and <70% of residents are fully vaccinated.
- Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
- Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.
2. “Federal and state surveyors are not required to be vaccinated and must be permitted entry into facilities unless they exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Surveyors should also adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention, and adhere to COVID-19 infection prevention requirements set by state law.”
So, the two important take-aways from this nursing home and patient rights directive are:
- We cannot continue restrictions on visitation if there is no longer an infection prevention necessity; and
- If CMS surveyors show up at your door, they will have to be permitted in to conduct their survey (and we have seen guidance from TJC that they are taking the same position relative to their surveyors being permitted access to conduct survey activities).
Patton Healthcare Consulting
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