As businesses and facilities are reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are not aware of their legal obligations to prevent, identify, and report the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as well as other infections and communicable diseases.
These requirements are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations – 42 CFR § 483.80 (Infection control). Facilities are required to have an infection prevention and control program (IPCP) to provide a safe and sanitary environment for their visitors, residents, patrons, and customers, and prevent the development and spread of infections and communicable diseases.
Under the aforementioned law, IPCP must contain the following four elements:
- A clear system for identifying, investigating, preventing, and reporting infections and communicable diseases applicable to all visitors, residents, patrons, staff, and other individuals;
- A system for recording reported incidents under the IPCP and any corrective and preventative actions taken by the facility;
- A program that contains antibiotic use protocols and monitors the use of antibiotics; and
- Written policies and procedures for the IPCP.
Those written policies, standards, and procedures must include:
- A system that identifies all possible infections and communicable diseases to prevent it from spreading to other individuals within the facility;
- How and when infections and communicable diseases should be reported;
- Clear precautions to prevent the transmission of infections and diseases;
- How and when infected individuals should be isolated from others;
- How and when the facility must prevent its workers diagnosed with an infection or communicable disease from having direct contact with residents and tenants or their food;
- Procedures for proper hand hygiene for all employees who have direct contact with residents; and
- Designate one or more persons as the infection preventionist who will be responsible for the IPCP.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government amended the law to include special reporting requirements for the COVID-19 disease. The section for “COVID-19 reporting” requires facilities to:
- Electronically report key information about the coronavirus disease in a standardized format and as often as instructed by the Secretary;
- At least once a week – or as instructed as by the Secretary – report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network. The information will be available publicly to protect the safety of residents, staff members, and others; and
- Inform residents and families of those residing in facilities of confirmed infections of coronavirus within the facility. The notice must be given by 5 p.m. the next day following the confirmed case of COVID-19. The notice is also required if three or more workers and/or residents develop respiratory symptoms occurring within 72 hours of each other.
The electronic report must contain the following information:
- Suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff members;
- Total deaths and coronavirus-related deaths among residents and workers;
- The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand hygiene supplies within the facility;
- Resident beds and census;
- Ventilator capacity in the facility;
- The availability of COVID-19 tests while residents are in the facility;
- Staffing shortages, if any; and
- Other information as instructed by the Secretary.
If you or your loved one became infected with COVID-19 in a nursing home or any other facility, speak with a knowledgeable Lakeland personal injury attorney. Contact The Turnbull Firm to get a consultation. Call at 407-612-6464 or 863-324-3500 to schedule a consultation.