Will the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continue to conduct Focus Infection Control Surveys in 2021? If so, what should we expect?

QSO memo 20-31-ALL states that in fiscal year 2021, CMS will continue to conduct Focus Infection Control Surveys. The memo states “at least 20 percent of nursing homes will be surveyed annually based on State discretion or additional data that identifies facility and community risk.” With the continued focus on infection control and prevention (ICP) in long-term care, expect it to be scrutinized every time surveyors enter the building. 

To prepare, facility leaders should review the most recent COVID-19 Focus Survey for Nursing Homes Infection Control pathway. It lists all the areas the surveyors will review to determine the effectiveness of the ICP program and policies. 

Next, gather important documents. Before the surveyors arrive, start a binder or file so documents are in one place. Include ICP policies and the facility surveillance plan, as well as the contingency staffing plan during infectious outbreaks, any staffing policies, a list of residents under observation or suspected to have an infection, facility screening processes for staff and visitors, proof of staff education and competencies, the communication plan to inform residents and family members of an outbreak, proof of infection reporting and tracking, and documentation of the infection preventionist’s role and involvement. 

Before the survey, identify gaps in staff knowledge and provide necessary education. 

Lastly, review infection control-related policies. Recent regulatory changes may affect one or more of the facility’s policies. Review key policies to ensure compliance.