A Florida nursing home is under criminal investigation after eight residents died as the result of a power outage, post Hurricane Irma. While 115 residents were later evacuated from the home, the eight residents ages 71 to 99, were subject to oppressive heat and humidity for days after the home’s air conditioning failed.

Come November, the losses will continue for a facility like this. Effective November 16, 2017, new CMS regulations Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers will be the newest audit on the annual survey for all 17 CMS provider and supplier types. Those found not in compliance with CMS regulations could lose their Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) accreditation and reimbursements.

An effective emergency preparedness plan should consider patient evacuation, medication and medical equipment transfer, staff training and even the viability of a facility’s supply chain during a crisis. CMS advocates these as key to maintaining patient safety and an effective staff response during and after a disaster.

While each of the 17 provider categories will have unique guidelines for emergency preparedness, all will be required to incorporate the following four provisions: 

  1. A Risk assessment must first be performed using an “all-hazards” approach, prior to establishing an emergency plan.
  2. Policies and procedures must support successful execution of the emergency plan and address the risks identified during the assessment process.
  3. Communications plan should coordinate patient care within the facility, across health care providers and with state and local public health departments and emergency management systems.
  4. Training and testing should result in both new and existing staff being able to demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures, with provisions for refresher training. Drills and exercises to test the emergency plan should be conducted. 

Should you be found not in compliance with new CMS regulations, the date of the survey starts a clock, with subsequent reviews beginning10 working days later and ending 90 calendar days post-survey, when CMS termination will take effect if compliance isn’t completed. 

Contact your HUB broker for help in putting a CMS-compliant emergency response plan in place.