CMS changes Emergency Plan Requirement

Just in time for 'flu season, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)  has changed requirements for Emergency Operations Plans home health agencies must have under the new Conditions of Participation.

New rules mean your agency will need to consider influenza and other infectious diseases in its all-hazards risks and vulnerabilities assessment, and include infectious diseases in all emergency operations plans based on that assessment. 

"Agencies will need to review their policies and procedures to make certain that infectious diseases are addressed," said J'non Griffin, Owner and President of Home Health Solutions. 

"Some new protocols and modifications may need to be enacted for the health and safety of patients during epidemics," she added. "Examples would be isolation or the use of personal protective equipment."

CMS announced the changes in a Feb. 1 memo to state agency survey directors. 

 Agencies were already required to have in place a risk assessment for natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, fires, earthquakes and for manmade disasters such as shootings, nuclear explosions and cyber attacks. Emerging infectious diseases which should now be included in the all-hazards risk assessment include influenza, the deadly Ebola virus and the mosquito-borne Zika virus. CMS said in its memo to state agency survey directors that it was making the change due to previous outbreaks of Ebola and Zika. 

The change is effective immediately.