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New Rules About Infection Preventionists Could Mean Less Infection Control in Nursing Homes Instead of More


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, poor infection control procedures were a major cause of death and worsening health among patients in nursing homes and other residential care facilities.  COVID-19 has been beyond anyone’s worst nightmares as far as the spread of infectious disease in nursing homes.  So far, by very conservative estimates, 97,000 infections and 16,000 deaths in residents and employees of nursing homes in the United States can be attributed to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  In Florida, COVID-19 has caused more than 600 nursing home resident deaths, and patients and employees have tested positive for the virus in more than 300 residential nursing facilities.  To avoid future catastrophes like this one, contact a Florida nursing home planning lawyer.

Can Reducing Regulation Mean Fewer Infections?

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering implementing a rule that would reduce the amount of regulation nursing homes would have to undergo regarding infection control practices.  The rule was first proposed in July 2019, before any patients anywhere in the world had received diagnoses of COVID-19 and is part of a larger in the Trump administration toward lowering regulatory requirements in many industries.  Under the current rules, every nursing home is required to have an infection preventionist on staff, and he or she must work at the nursing home on at least a part-time basis.  Additionally, every nursing home must conduct a facility-wide assessment of compliance with nursing home regulations, infection control-related and otherwise.

If the proposal goes into effect, it will mean that each facility must employ an infection preventionist for “sufficient time,” but it does not specify how many hours per week that would mean; it leaves the interpretation of “sufficient” to the management of individual nursing homes.  Furthermore, nursing homes would only have to conduct a facility-wide assessment once every two years.  It would also relax the rule that says that no more than two patients can reside in one room.  Supporters of the proposal say that the current level of regulation and assessment is a drain on nursing home employees’ time, and that reducing the regulation requirements would free up the employees’ time to provide better care for patients.  Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal say that relaxing the requirements would only make things worse; self-assessment and transparency with regulators help nursing homes improve their infection control.  Furthermore, prospective residents should be able to choose a nursing home based on quantitative data about safety.  Choosing a nursing home is not like buying a smartphone, where you make your choice based on online reviews about what other consumers like and dislike about it.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

The idea of choosing to move to a nursing home might seem terrifying right now.  That is all the more reason to meet with a nursing home planning attorney sooner rather than later.  Choosing a nursing home is only the last step, and it happens years in the future, but the planning starts now.  Contact Clearwater nursing home planning attorney William Rambaum for answers to your questions.




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