The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may be considering “re-engineering” systems designed for patient safety, but a leading nursing home advisor said that skilled nursing facilities already have numerous measures in place. 

Still, Amy Stewart, vice president of Education and Certification Strategy for the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing, said facilities should ensure that direct-care staff are involved in assessing how to improve safety.

“Oftentimes, staff closest to the work have valuable input about areas that need improvement,” Stewart told McKnights Long-Term Care News on Thursday.

CMS made a soft announcement Thursday morning of its intentions through a blog post from three agency heavyweights: Lee Fleisher, MD., chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality; Michelle Schreiber, MD, director of the Quality Measurement and Value-Based Incentives Group; and Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator and chief operating officer.

While the post specifically mentioned patient safety in hospitals, the authors referenced “other” healthcare providers, which likely includes nursing homes. 

“The re-engineering of safe systems of care, across all settings, requires a renewed and ongoing commitment by providers, payers, and patient advocates together,” the blog stated. 

The agency will incentivize “meaningful improvements” and penalize providers who do not meet standards. A spokeswoman for the agency said rewards and penalties refer to the quality reporting programs and value-based purchasing programs that CMS oversees.

The post indicated that guidance would be forthcoming on “an effective, data-driven quality assessment and performance improvement program.” Measures will include tracking and monitoring for medical errors and could also include teamwork training and safety checklists.

Stewart said that the long-term care community has existing regulations and quality measures, but facilities would be wise to analyze how they gather and monitor data. She added that facilities should evaluate their QAPI process to determine if they are reactive to current problems or proactive in determining what issues could be lurking around the corner. 

“Near misses should be evaluated and considered as part of the QAPI program before they do become a problem,” Stewart said. “This is probably an area that is most often overlooked.”