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CMS Emergency Prep rule is now enforceable by surveyors

It’s finally here.

CMS’ new Emergency Preparedness rule went into effect on Wednesday, November 15, which means surveyors can now cite facilities who aren’t compliant with the rule’s requirements.

The rule closes gaps in CMS’ previous regulations, such as requiring facilities to have contingency planning in place, emergency response training for staff, and communicate and coordinate their emergency plans with other hospitals and government agencies at the tribal, local, regional, state, and federal levels. Facilities have had over two years to prepare for this rule, and the agency has already said it won’t be accepting excuses for noncompliance.

While the rule itself is new, Steve MacArthur, a safety consultant at The Greeley Company in Danvers, Massachusetts, says that a lot of the new requirements are things that hospitals should have already been doing.

“I suppose I should stop and say that while this rule is new to the ‘marketplace,’ there are really no new concepts contained therein,” he says. “This may provide some guidance for CMS surveyors as they drill down on organizational preparedness activities. But none of this is groundbreaking or in any way representative of a change in how hospitals have done, and will continue to do, business. [It’s] just another set of official ‘eyes’ looking through the compliance microscope.”

Resources

BOAQ

Webinar: Suicide Prevention in Hospitals: Reduce Risk and Comply With Joint Commission Requirements

Presented on: Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST
Speaker: Ernest E. Allen, ARM, CSP, CPHRM, CHFM
Program Level: Intermediate 
Registration: http://hcmarketplace.com/suicide-prevention-in-hospitals

Summary:  Hospitals are continually working to reduce the risk of patient suicide in their facilities, but the problem persists. The Joint Commission has placed particular emphasis on reducing suicide risk, including a National Patient Safety Goal and a recent Sentinel Event Alert.

In this webinar, former Joint Commission surveyor Ernest E. Allen, ARM, CSP, CPHRM, CHFM, will explain how hospitals can identify and reduce suicide risks and improve compliance with Joint Commission requirements.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Identify suicide risks in hospitals
  • Be able to reference applicable Joint Commission standards and Sentinel Event Alerts
  •  Learn prevention methods to help lower suicide risk

Joint Commission announces four survey focus areas

Representatives from The Joint Commission, URAC, DNV-GL, the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) took the stage at the 2017 NAMSS Educational Conference & Exhibition to share what they have learned from this year’s accreditation surveys and to tell audience members about relevant standards changes

The Joint Commission announced four areas of focus:

1.    The SAFER Matrix: Implemented in January 2017, the SAFER Matrix has nine boxes that measure the likelihood to harm a patient on one axis and scope of occurrence (limited, pattern, widespread) on the other.

2.    Antimicrobial stewardship: The CDC reported that 20% to 50% of antibiotics were prescribed unnecessarily or inappropriately annually. Medical staffs must reduce their antimicrobial use and have a medical staff process to demonstrate an effective use of antibiotics or antimicrobials in their organizations.

3.    Ligature risks for behavioral healthcare units: Due to the increasing rise of inpatient suicides (1,200 to 1,500 each year), 70% of which are by hanging, ligature risks are no longer acceptable in areas specified for the treatment of behavioral healthcare patients with suicide risk.

4.    Culture of safety:Leaders must ensure a culture of safety and identify areas to improve culture of safety. Staff must be comfortable and able to report issues of safety to leadership. This is already a culture of safety standard in the Leadership chapter and the accreditor will unveil a related standard in the Medical Staff chapter in 2018.

According to Louis Goolsby, MD, FACOG, FACHE, the most common citations from the Medical Staff chapter still come from MS.01.01.01, specifically EP3 (specific requirements and associated details are included in the medical staff bylaws) and EP5 (the medical staff complies with the medical staff bylaws). Another common citation is MS.03.01.01 (practitioners only practice within their scope of privileges).

Editor’s note: 
The following article was originally published on the Credentialing Resource Center, October 24, 2017.

West Virginia cities sue Joint Commission over alleged role in opioid crisis

Four West Virginia cities and towns filed a class-action lawsuit against The Joint Commission and Joint Commission Resources on November 2, claiming the accreditor “grossly misrepresented the addictive qualities of opioids” in their pain management standards. The town of Ceredo and cities of Charleston, Huntington, and Kenova claim that those standards forced hospitals to prescribe unsafe amounts of painkillers, fueling addiction and deaths in the state. [Is there any dollar amount named in the lawsuit? What is it asking for?]

“This lawsuit is a critical move toward eliminating the source of opioid addiction and holding one of the most culpable parties responsible,” said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. “For too long, [The Joint Commission] has operated in concert with opioid producers to establish pain management guidelines that feature the use of opioids virtually without restriction. The [commission’s] standards are based on bad science, if they are based on any science at all.”

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation, with 41.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. Huntington and Cabell County had the highest overdose fatality rate in the state last year.

The lawsuit claims that the pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma (the makers of OxyContin) worked with The Joint Commission to create the pain management standards. These companies stood to gain from the overuse of their drugs, the lawsuit claims.

The Joint Commission accredits at least 10 hospitals and healthcare facilities in Charleston and Huntington, and other cities and towns are expected to join the federal lawsuit.

The Joint Commission updated its pain management standards in June to reduce over prescriptions, which will take effect on January 1. However, the lawsuit says the accreditor waited too long to make those changes.

This isn’t the first time that The Joint Commission has come under fire either. In 2016 more than 60 medical experts and nonprofit organizations signed petitions asking the commission to change its standards. Claiming they “foster dangerous pain control practices, the endpoint of which is often the inappropriate provision of opioids with disastrous adverse consequences for individuals, families, and communities.”

Joint Commission releases updated Patient Blood Management Certification standards

The new standards were updated to meet the AABB’s guidelines and will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

The Joint Commission’s Patient Blood Management Certification program was developed with the AABB, an international association focusing on cellular therapies, transfusion medicine, and blood management. The certification is based on the AABB’s Standards for a Blood Management Program and is aimed at educating hospitals on the benefits of an evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach to the transfusion decision-making process.

 

Another delay of CMS hospital star ratings system

CMS will delay an update to its controversial hospital star rating system for the second time in four months. The update was expected to launch this month and the new setback means the tool might not be available to the public until 2018.

CMS told reporters that it needed more time “to continue its examination of potential changes to the Star Rating methodology based on public feedback.” Until CMS releases the update, the ratings from December 2016 will remain on the Hospital Compare website.

The star ratings are intended to provide patients with more transparency on hospital quality, and are based on seven different latent variable models. Hospital scores are calculated using 57 quality measures broken up into seven categories:
•    Mortality
•    Patient experience
•    Readmissions
•    Safety of care
•    Care effectiveness
•    Care timeliness
•    Efficient use of medical imaging

However, since the day it was proposed many hospitals and healthcare organizations have argued against the five-star system. Some argued it unfairly penalized hospitals with poorer or sicker patients, that the methodology it uses is flawed, and that patients’ perceptions aren’t the same as quality.

Joint Commission updates EM standards to match CMS

In response to CMS’ final emergency preparedness rule issued earlier this month, The Joint Commission announced revisions to its emergency management (EM) standards. CMS is expected to approve the updated standards before they go into effect on November 15.

Accredited organizations can access the proposed drafts on their Joint Commission Connect™ extranet site, with more information on the way.

The Joint Commission’s standards come with new Elements of Performance on the following topics:

•    Continuity of operations and succession plans
•    Documentation of collaboration with local, tribal, regional, state and federal emergency management officials
•    Contact information on volunteers and tribal groups
•    Annual training of all new or existing staff, contractors, and volunteers
•    Integrated healthcare systems
•    Transplant hospitals

Several of the new requirements merely provide more specifics on what The Joint Commission already expects. This includes including documentation for existing practices and annual training for staff.

CMS first announced the emergency preparedness CoPs in September 2016, compelling hospitals to communicate and coordinate their emergency plans with other hospitals and government agencies.

They also require regular emergency preparedness training with staff and disaster contingency planning. CMS published the final version of the new Appendix Z of Medicare’s State Operations Manual online, and state surveyors will use newly created E-tags to score deficiencies and expectations set in it.

 

CMS temporarily suspends some Medicare requirements for hurricane-stricken hospitals

Joint Commission also suspending surveys of hurricane affect hospitals temporarily

CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the agency is temporarily suspending certain Medicare requirements for healthcare providers assisting with Hurricane Irma recovery efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Joint Commission also announced that it would be suspending survey activities in the affected areas for the time being.

At the moment, CMS is waiving the following enrollment requirements:
•    Payment of the application fee
•    Fingerprint-based criminal background checks
•    Site visits
•    In-state licensure requirements

“CMS is dedicated to making it as easy as possible for the individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Irma to access medical care during this difficult time,” said Verma. “There are healthcare providers and suppliers in the aftermath of the hurricane that are ready and willing to help. CMS has established a hotline for providers and temporarily suspended certain Medicare requirements so that these healthcare professionals can provide services to those in need.”

The toll-free hotline she’s referring to is for non-certified Medicare Part B providers and other practitioners so they can enroll in federal health programs and receive temporary Medicare billing privileges. First Cost Service Option, a Medicare Administrative Contractor, will work to assist providers in these areas to temporarily enroll healthcare providers. The number is 855-247-8428, and it’s in service between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET

Starting September 18, 2017, providers will be able to initiate temporary Medicare billing privileges over the phone and on the same day. In addition, CMS is:

•    Allowing providers not currently enrolled to initiate temporary billing privileges by providing limited information. This information includes (but isn’t limited), National Provider Identifier (NPI), Social Security Number (SSN) or a business Employer Identification Number taxpayer identification numbers (SSN/EIN/TIN), and valid in-state or out-of-state licensure.
•    Temporarily ceasing revalidation efforts for Medicare providers in areas directly impacted by Hurricane Irma.
•    Waiving the practice location reporting requirements
•    Not taking administrative actions on providers who fail to notify them about their temporary practice location. This temporary process will remain in effect from September 7 until the disaster designation is lifted. After that, it must be reported through appropriate channels.

“CMS will continue to work with all states and geographic areas in the path of hurricanes Irma and Harvey,” according to the press release. “The agency continues to update its emergency page (www.cms.gov/emergency) with important information for state and local officials, providers, healthcare facilities, suppliers and the public.”

To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/hurricane-response/index.html.

George Mills lands gig with Chicago firm as his Joint Commission exit approaches

Two weeks after The Joint Commission confirmed that its engineering department director would be leaving the organization, a Chicago-based professional services firm proudly announced him as a new hire.

George Mills, MBA, FASHE, CEM, CHFM, CHSP, who worked 14 years for the accrediting organization, will transition next month into his new job as director of healthcare technical operations with JLL, the company said Wednesday in a statement.

“George’s vision and passion for the improvement of hospital operations will benefit the hospital systems we serve across the country,” said Peter Bulgarelli, executive managing director of JLL’s Healthcare group, in the statement. “In his new role with JLL, George’s direct work with healthcare organizations on regulatory and compliance matters through JLL solutions and technology will take our platform to the next level for our clients.”

Mills, who will take the lead on JLL’s healthcare technical operations platform, will manage teams focused on a number of areas, including not only compliance matters and facility management but supply chains, sustainability initiatives, and more, the company noted.

Mills said in the statement that his transition will enable him to put his teachings into practice and show healthcare organizations how to implement solutions proactively. “I believe together we can make a difference and show the industry that change is possible,” he said.

JLL Healthcare says it offers solutions related to facilities and real estate in order to push healthcare organizations forward both clinically and financially. The company says its clients include 540 hospitals.

The brand name JLL is a trademark registered to Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

A spokesperson for The Joint Commission said August 24 that Mills would be leaving his current post effective October 9. John D. Maurer, SASHE, CHFM, CHSP, will take over as acting director on an interim basis.

What providers can do this National Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week is September 10-16, bringing awareness to the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. This week is a time for physicians, nurses, and other providers to learn more about how their healthcare organizations can help suicidal patients.

Find out how your healthcare organization can help suicide patients

Find out how your healthcare organization can help suicide patients

In 2013, 9.3 million adults had suicidal thoughts, 1.3 million attempted suicide, and 41,149 died. Even more worrying is that the rate of suicides has increased 24% between 1999 and 2014. And as of March 2017, Joint Commission surveyors have been putting special focus on suicide, self-harm, and ligature observations in psychiatric units and hospitals. Surveyors are documenting all observations of self-harm risks, and evaluating whether the facility has:

  • Identified these risks before
  • Has plans to deal with these risks
  • Conducted an effective environmental risk assessment process

 

To learn more about suicide prevention in healthcare, check out the following websites and articles.