CMS releases new information on emergency preparedness requirements

Accreditation Insider, April 4, 2017

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CMS has issued new information on the training and testing requirements for its Emergency Preparedness final rule. The rule went into effect last year, and all applicable facilities must be in full compliance with the rules by November 15, 2017. 

“In order to meet these requirements, we strongly encourage providers and suppliers to seek out and to participate in a full-scale, community-based exercise with their local and/or state emergency agencies and health care coalitions and to have completed a tabletop exercise by the implementation date,” the agency wrote. “We realize that some providers and suppliers are waiting for the release of the interpretive guidance to begin planning these exercises, but that is not necessary nor is it advised. Providers and suppliers that are found to have not completed these exercises, or any other requirements of the Final Rule upon their survey, will be cited for non-compliance.”

The rule requires healthcare facilities to meet the following four standards:

1. Emergency plan: Based on a risk assessment, develop an emergency plan using an all-hazards approach focusing on capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters specific to the location of a provider or supplier.

2. Policies and procedures: Develop and implement policies and procedures based on the plan and risk assessment.

3. Communication plan: Develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both 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.

4. Training and testing program: Develop and maintain training and testing programs, including initial and annual trainings, and conduct drills and exercises or participate in an actual incident that tests the plan.

Facilities unable to complete a full-scale community exercise by the deadline will have to finish an individual facility-based exercise and give proof that they why the full-scale exercise couldn’t be done. For those having trouble meeting the new rule, CMS has provided related resources. These include:

•    checklists
•    links to emergency preparedness agencies
•    planning templates
•    a state-by-state listing of healthcare coalitions


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