The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance for nursing homes and clinical laboratories to assist in enhancing their abilities to prevent the spread of covid-19 to nursing home residents and their frontline staff.

Nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to the prevalence and spread of covid-19. CMS continues to take proactive steps to enhance infection control policies, including practices that limit potential transmission, and prevent outbreaks within these facilities to protect residents.

The new guidance requires all nursing homes to test all residents and staff for covid-19. A new survey tool is included with this guidance as well. A second memo recommends that facilities that conduct patient lab tests use authorized detection antigens as another deterrent in infection prevention and control (IPC). These efforts are aimed at preventing the virus from entering nursing homes, improving a facility’s ability to detect cases quickly, and stopping transmission. Swift identification of confirmed covid-19 cases allows a facility to take immediate action to remove exposure risks to nursing home residents and staff.

The nursing home guidance memo outlines steps that facilities must take under the new testing requirements, including instruction on terms of frequency, reporting, documentation, and other requirements, and a revised facility survey tool for program compliance.

Detailed information in the memos can be found at Laboratory Testing Update: QSO-20-37-CLIA, NH and Nursing Home Testing Update: QSO-20-38-NH.