Skilled Nursing Facility

Recent guidance by CMS addresses backlog of nursing home surveys

Over the pandemic, nursing home surveys fell behind because COVID-19 restrictions, creating a backlog for survey agencies (SAs). CMS is taking the following steps which will allow SAs to focus their efforts on identifying concerns for all aspects of quality of care, quality of life, and ensuring health and safety, as outlined in their guidance:

FIC surveys: CMS is rescinding the requirement per QSO 20-31-All to conduct FIC surveys within 3-5 days of an outbreak of COVID-19.  SAs may still conduct these surveys when concerns related to managing COVID-19, or infection control practices, arise. NOTE: While CMS is changing its policy regarding FIC surveys, there are other policies in QSO 20-31-All that are still in place.

Resuming standard recertification surveys:  SAs will continue to conduct recertification surveys, but do not need to conduct additional recertification surveys to make up for any surveys that could not be completed during the COVID-19 PHE. In other words, SAs will resume the normal survey schedule moving forward, as described in more detail below. 

Nursing Home complaints/facility-reported incidents: CMS is providing SAs with flexibilities to focus on allegations that are more serious.

• Timeframe for clearing backlogs:  CMS will collaborate with each State to determine appropriate timeframes for clearing the survey backlog;

Temporary guidance and flexibilities: CMS is providing temporary guidance and minor flexibilities for SAs to work through the current backlog of complaints and recertification surveys that is a direct result of the suspension of certain onsite survey activities in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.