CMS proposes more rigorous emergency preparedness rules for long-term care facilities

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CMS proposes more rigorous emergency preparedness rules for long-term care facilities
CMS proposes more rigorous emergency preparedness rules for long-term care facilities

Long-term care facilities would have to meet more comprehensive emergency preparedness guidelines, under a newly proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Events such as the Sept. 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and recent devastating floods around the nation have shown that current emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare and Medicaid providers are inadequate, according to the 120-page proposed rule. Therefore, CMS has drafted more robust requirements for providers and suppliers.

Long-term care facilities would be subject to similar requirements proposed for hospitals. These are based on the principle of “all-hazards planning,” the rule states. This means planning should not involve developing highly specific plans for every conceivable threat, but should focus on creating the capacity to handle a spectrum of emergencies. The government has identified 15 scenarios for healthcare providers to use in assessing their risks, including natural disasters, cyber attacks and biological attacks.

Based in part on a risk assessment, hospitals should develop specific policies and procedures, the rule states. These include such items as tracking the location of staff and patients, and ensuring that medical records are “secure and available” in an emergency.

Long-term care facilities would be responsible for meeting all the hospital requirements, with some specific adjustments and additions, according to the rule. LTC facilities would specifically be directed to account for missing residents during a disaster, would have to determine what emergency planning information should be shared with residents and families, and should evaluate the need for chargers or electrical outlets for items such as motorized wheelchairs.

Click here to access the complete document, issued Dec. 27. Comments are being accepted through Feb. 25. 

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