CMS expects facilities to have policies/procedures in place for active screening practices which are consistent with CDC guidelines and accepted standards of practice and that these policies/procedures are being carried out. At a minimum the facilities’ screening process should include temperature checks as this is one important factor for mitigating the risk of exposure to COVID-19. CMS does not have a specific list of elements the screening process must include; however, facilities are encouraged to refer to CDC guidelines as well as their State Health Department for additional considerations.
One helpful resource is the updated July 15, 2020 CDC document titled “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-recommendations.html). CDC notes that “screening for symptoms will not identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals” with COVID-19 but “remains an important strategy to identify those who could have COVID-19 so appropriate precautions can be implemented.” Recommendations for screening and triage of those entering a healthcare facility, in part, include:
- Screen everyone entering the healthcare facility for symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
- Actively take their temperature and document absence of symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Fever is either measured temperature ≥100.0°F or subjective fever.
- Ask them if they have been advised to self-quarantine because of exposure to someone with COVID-19.
- Properly manage anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been advised to self-quarantine.
If no screening process is in place this would put the facility at risk for citation. Additionally, it is important to note that state law may have more strict requirements on active screening practices depending upon what is happening with COVID-19 in their area.