Hospitals have until November to prepare for new CMS rule

The Joint Commission says hospitals will have until November to prepare for new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements. The American Society for Healthcare Engineering reported to its members that CMS will begin surveying health care facilities on its new Conditions of Participation (CoPs) on Nov. 7.

When CMS published its new CoPs in a federal rule in May, the effective date was July 5. However, the Joint Commission issued a memo on June 10 stating the new CMS survey deadline of Nov. 7, noting that this allows health care providers and suppliers more time to assess their facilities for compliance. The Joint Commission is revising its applicable standards to meet the new CoPs. CMS is giving the Joint Commission 60 days from June 8 to submit revised standards, surveyor tools, documents and training.

HHS selects final regional Ebola treatment center

Department of Health & Human Services selected Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles as its final regional Ebola treatment center. The medical center will serve Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Island territories and freely associated states. The selection brings HHS’ regional Ebola treatment centers to 10.

The regional facilities are part of a national network of centers designated to treat Ebola and other highly infectious diseases. HHS announced the other nine regional centers last July.

CDC alert on antibiotic-resistant gene includes environmental cleaning guideline

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert on infection prevention following the discovery of the first mcr-1 gene found in Escherichia coli bacteria from a human in the United States. The discovery was announced in May by the Department of Defense, and has caused concern among the medical community because of its resistance to the antibiotic colistin, which is used as a last-resort drug to treat patients with multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.

The CDC alert includes recommendations for environmental cleaning and food preparation. It also includes best practices for laboratory testing and reporting cases to public health agencies.

Senate passes bill expanding rural telehealth program

The Senate this week approved the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act allowing public and nonprofit skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP), which provides funding for telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural communities.

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated the RHCP and created the Healthcare Connect Fund in 2012, it proposed implementing a pilot program to examine funding SNFs. The agency later deferred implementation of the pilot program, claiming it needed additional statutory authority to allow SNFs to be eligible. In comments submitted to the FCC in January, the American Hospital Association urged the agency to enhance participation and access to broadband for rural health care services.

AAMI seeks feedback on draft guidance for post-market medical device risk management

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is asking the medical device industry and the wider health care community to comment on draft framework regarding managing postmarket medical device safety. The draft, Postmarket Risk Management: A Framework for Incorporating Benefit-Risk Assessments into Postmarket Decisions, seeks to better align the medical device industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on postmarket risk management.

“Significant resources have helped guide industry and the FDA when assessing benefit and risk in the premarket phase of a product’s life cycle,” says AAMI President Mary Logan. “Less work has been done on assessing benefit and risk in the postmarket.”

Joint Commission receives deeming authority for California clinical laboratories

The Joint Commission has received deeming authority for California clinical laboratories from the California Department of Public Health’s Laboratory Field Services (LFS). California clinical laboratories are now able to demonstrate compliance with federal and state laws and regulations through the Joint Commission’s Laboratory Accreditation Program. 

“We are pleased to receive this important deeming authority from LFS and are prepared to take on the responsibilities of inspection and oversight for clinical laboratories to ensure ongoing compliance with California law,” says Stacy Olea, MT(ASCP), FACHE, executive director for laboratory accreditation at the Joint Commission. “As a quality improvement organization, the deemed status will allow us to bring our dedication to patient safety and quality care to the forefront of clinical laboratories across California.”