Healthcare facilities, especially nursing homes, have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s devastation. Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases and complications from illness. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, infection control and PPE compliance has been an ever-present focus for many nursing homes. These facilities rely on thorough sanitation as well as correct and consistent usage of PPE, such as masks, gloves and gowns, to protect their residents and staff.
Nursing homes also need PPE to comply with more stringent federal infection control regulations. Supply360’s compliance partner, The Compliance Store, has provided regulatory resources and information for nursing homes for about 10 years. They have seen a significant uptick in new PPE guidance and requirements for facilities since the pandemic began.
“COVID-19 was a new virus with the potential to be catastrophic. Correct use of PPE, especially face masks, was pivotal for reducing the impact of outbreaks,” said Michele Mummert, director of research and development at The Compliance Store.
The cost of knowledge
In 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposed more than $10 million in fines on nursing homes for non-compliance with infection control requirements. The average penalty was $55,000. The most common type of non-compliance cited was improper use of PPE. Some of the deficiencies noted include staff not wearing PPE, lack of hand hygiene, and failure to change contaminated PPE.
As variants like Delta and Omicron spread, Mummert expects the focus on the correct usage of PPE will continue into 2022 and facilities need to be prepared.
“Above all, be proactive rather than reactive,” she said. “In addition to ensuring your facility has adequate supplies of the correct PPE to provide care and prevent infections, education is vital.”
Facilities should consider the following to educate about PPE and ensure compliance.
- Ensure that staff are knowledgeable about the proper procedures and order when donning and doffing PPE and educate accordingly.
- Educate staff on transmission-based precautions and the appropriate PPE to be used with each precaution.
- Ensure that residents understand and are educated about PPE if they have to wear it for certain situations.
- Ensure that visitors, vendors, and others coming into the building are educated on PPE requirements and compliance with wearing while in the facility, as needed.
“Lack of knowledge can easily lead to expensive deficiencies,” Mummert said. “Make sure you always have the latest information, guidance and up-to-date policies to keep your residents and your facility protected.”