Sprinkler system citations now in effect

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Nursing homes without a full sprinkler system installed and functioning are now subject to deficiency citations, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In a memorandum, CMS clarified the sprinkler requirement that went into effect Aug. 13. All nursing homes participating in Medicare or Medicaid must be fully equipped with sprinklers. 

If a facility doesn't have sprinklers, it will be cited with deficiency tag K056 during surveys. Cited facilities will be required to submit a plan of correction to fix the deficiency within three months. 

The requirement was finalized in 2008, with a five-year implementation period.

The memo states that a civil monetary penalty will not be imposed for a facility that has contracts in place and completed plans for installation. It also details various categories of sprinkler systems that could warrant a citation and the deficiency's severity. Most would be at severity level D, E or F, at a minimum.

Surveys indicate about 1,200 facilities nationwide still do not have a full sprinkler system, according to CMS.