Did you know that A-Tags are relevant to the Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Conditions for Participation (COP) and are the interpretive guidelines for hospitals?

Tags are a user-friendly system used by CMS to define a regulation number. Instead of denoting a regulation by using its full reference, the regulation is referred to as A-Tag 0700, for example. Specific tags are assigned to different health care facility types. For instance, hospitals use Appendix A or A-Tags, while ambulatory surgery centers use Appendix L or Q-Tags, and critical access hospitals follow Appendix W or C-Tags.

Hospitals are required to comply with the CMS’ requirements to be able to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. Certification of hospital compliance with the accomplishment of the COPs is completed using three major strategies: observations, interviews with staff and patients, and reviewing documents and records.

The focus of an accreditation survey homes in on a hospital’s performance relative to patient-centered functions accomplished by the organization along with the processes used to administer those functions. The hospital survey is the means used to assess a facility’s compliance with various federal health, safety and quality standards that will ensure that patients are receiving safe, high-quality care and services.

When a surveyor comes to your facility, he or she assesses the hospital’s compliance related to the COP as it pertains to A-Tags, or the other tags, such as K-Tags and E-Tags.

Compliance of the A-Tags is relevant to The Joint Commission standards and many of the elements of performance are similar or are, in fact, identical.

The primary reason for the A-Tags is to ensure that all venues in the hospital prioritize the health and safety of patients, visitors and staff. Some of the standards involve nursing services, medical records and infection control, to name a few. This month, an American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) task force has focused on a tool to improve understanding of the A-Tags.

The ASHE CMS State Operations Manual Appendix A Crosswalk provides A-Tag information along with the related codes and standards applicable to the requirements for each A-Tag. To ensure that the tool is relevant to health care facility professionals, it focuses specifically on A-Tag requirements that affect the physical environment.

This tool will help to ensure that ASHE members understand what is required as they prepare for surveys by The Joint Commission and other accrediting bodies. It also breaks down the requirements in a way that is both accurate and easy to understand, so that health facility professionals can ensure a compliant and safe environment for patients, visitors and staff.

ASHE members can download the resource for free.