**UPDATED** New CMS guidance consolidates five infection control F-tags into one

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released final changes regarding certain guidance governing infection control in long-term care facilities. The formal effective date for the revised guidance is Sept. 30, 2009.

The revision combines F-tags 441, 442, 443, 444 and 445 into one tag, F-441. According to a CMS release, the reason for the change is to "bring everything that relates to infection control into one location to best utilize the surveyors time and resources." The revised guidelines reflect some changes that had been in the works for at least one year. After working through a "glitch" that implied an earlier effective date, CMS is expected to issue a formal announcement in the form of a Survey and Certification letter, which will include advance copy and training material, possibly by the end of this month.

The new guidance shouldn't negatively impact long-term care providers. According to Patricia Boyer, president of Boyer & Associates and a payment and policy columnist for McKnight's, "the guidance provides better clarification and a roadmap for compliance." To see the latest CMS communication on this, click here.