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CMS proposes emergency preparedness procedures

January 9, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Feb. 25 is the last day to comment on a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)-proposed rule that would require senior care providers and others to follow specific procedures to prepare for national emergencies.

“Our proposed regulations would provide generally consistent emergency preparedness requirements, enhance patient safety during emergencies for persons served by Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities and establish a more coordinated and defined response to natural and man-made disasters,” the agency says in the proposal.

Four elements are central to emergency preparedness programs, CMS believes:

  • Risk assessment and planning: Before establishing an emergency plan, facilities would be required to perform a risk assessment using an “all-hazards” approach focusing on capacities and capabilities critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters.
  • Policies and procedures: Facilities would be required to develop and implement policies and procedures based on the emergency plan and risk assessment.
  • Communication plan: Facilities would be required to develop and maintain an emergency preparedness communication plan that complies with federal and state law. “Patient care must be well-coordinated within the facility, across healthcare providers, and with state and local public health departments and emergency systems to protect patient health and safety in the event of a disaster,” the proposed rule states.
  • Training and testing: Facilities would be required to develop and maintain a training and testing program that includes initial and annual training in emergency preparedness policies and procedures. Facilities would be required to ensure that staff members can demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures, and CMS would require that facilities conduct drills and exercises to test their emergency plans.

The proposed rule further outlines specific requirements for long-term care facilities, hospices, home health agencies, programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE) and other providers and suppliers participating in Medicare and Medicaid.

Instructions on how to comment on the rule are online in the Federal Register.

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