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CMS Final Rule Addresses Emergency Preparedness

CMS Final Rule Addresses Emergency Preparedness

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a final rule to establish consistent emergency preparedness requirements for health care providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid, increase patient safety during emergencies, and establish a more coordinated response to natural and man-made disasters.

After reviewing the current Medicare emergency preparedness regulations for both providers and suppliers, CMS found that regulatory requirements were not comprehensive enough to address the complexities of emergency preparedness. The new final rule requires Medicare and Medicaid participating providers and suppliers to meet the following four common and well known industry best practice standards for emergency preparedness:

  • 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.
  • Policies and procedures: Develop and implement policies and procedures based on the plan and risk assessment.
  • 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 health care providers, and with State and local public health departments and emergency systems.
  • 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.

The new requirements vary slightly based on provider type.  For example:

  • Outpatient providers and suppliers such as Ambulatory Surgical Centers and End-Stage Renal Disease Facilities will not be required to have policies and procedures for provision of subsistence needs.
  • Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Long Term Care facilities will be required to install and maintain emergency and standby power systems based on their emergency plan.
  • Long Term Care facilities will be required to account for missing residents during an emergency situation and included within its emergency preparedness communication plan a means of providing information about the general condition and location of residents under the facility’s care.

The new regulations are effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Health care providers and suppliers affected by this rule must comply and implement all regulations one year after the effective date.

StayAlert! is currently reviewing the new rule in detail and will publish additional notices reviewing components of the final rule specific to provider type over the next several weeks.


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