Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

Surveyors will be paying close attention to healthcare providers’ compliance with infection prevention and control policies amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said. 

“Because coronavirus infections can rapidly appear and spread, facilities must take steps to prepare, including reviewing their infection control policies and practices to prevent the spread of infection,” CMS wrote in a memo last Thursday. 

Providers were encouraged to review information on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its recommendations for healthcare facilities.

“We are working diligently to ensure surveyors and health care providers across the country understand and comply with critically important guidelines that are designed to stop the spread of infectious diseases and keep patients free from harm,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

The coronavirus arrived on U.S. soil in late January after originating in China. It poses the most danger to older adults, people with cardiopulmonary disease, those with weakened immune systems, and infants, according to CDC officials.

The memo also reminded surveyors and healthcare facility staff members to ensure compliance with basic infection control practices. The agency added that healthcare staff should adhere to recommended hand hygiene practices and review appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use and availability. 

“CMS regularly observes these infection control practices as part of the normal survey process and notes that applying the basic principles of hand hygiene and using appropriate PPE protects lives. Medicare participating healthcare facilities should also have PPE measures and protocols within their emergency plans, especially in the event of potential surge situations,” the memo stated.