As nursing homes wait for point-of care testing instruments and supplies to arrive from the federal government, they first should make sure they are complying with state public health guidelines regarding the devices. 

“Due to the lower sensitivity and specificity of these test devices, not all state public health departments allow for their use, and many have certain requirements in place for using these tests appropriately,” the American Health Care Association said in an advisory document released this week.

AHCA outlined six actions operators are required to take prior to using the POC, or antigen, testing instruments. 

Facilities also should review CARES Act reporting requirement and establish a process to report all test results; develop a plan, in accordance with state and local guidelines, to perform any follow-up tests with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests for those who test negative using the POC testing devices; and ensure they have personnel trained to collect the specimen and use the test properly to be compliant with the CLIA certificate.

Providers also must have a process to record all test results and notify the person of the results, and incorporate the use of these testing devices into their facility infection prevention and control programs and facility assessments. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services disclosed the new testing initiative earlier this month. Last week, it identified the first 636 facilities to receive the tests. While federal authorities have had to back off a pledge to get 2,000 devices distributed the first week, they are standing by a pledge to get them to all 15,400 certified nursing facilities in the country sometime this fall.