This week’s “Ftag of the Week” on the CMSCG Blog is F562 Immediate Access to Resident, which is part of the Resident Rights regulatory group. While F562 is definitely not a frequently cited deficiency in any region of the US, the regulatory requirements for F562 are more pertinent than ever, considering the limitations on visitation that were in place in nursing homes throughout the country for the past year of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). F562 mandates that facilities provide immediate access to residents by:
- Representatives of the Secretary or of the State – including Federal/State surveyors
- Representatives of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman office
- Representatives of Protection and Advocacy Systems
- Resident’s individual physician
- Resident representative
For essentially the past year, allowing non-residents and non-employees into healthcare facilities has been restricted by different government requirements at both the Federal and State level. On March 10, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an update to its visitation guidance, and many States have their own guidance as well that aligns with the CMS requirements. While visitation is expected to be allowed, if there are more stringent regulations in place through State guidance, it is important to note that the above-mentioned list is what is expected from CMS. This means that providers should know that they cannot restrict surveyors, State LTC Ombudsman and/or representatives from protection and advocacy systems. It is worth noting, while not part of this regulation, that CMS guidance states that providers cannot deny entrance to members of these group by requiring them to present a negative test result or proof of vaccination.
How It’s Cited
Facilities were cited in 2020 for:
- Failure to allow the Ombudsman into the facility without providing a negative COVID-19 test result.
- Failure to allow surveyors into the building without management being on-site.
- Failure to provide alternate means of access to a resident by the Ombudsman when in-person visitation could not be facilitated due to the facility’s COVID-19 status.
If a facility is unable to offer in-person visitation to a particular resident, perhaps due to his/her current COVID-19 positive status, it is expected that the facility will continue to offer alternate means for access to that resident. Providers have done a great job facilitating virtual visitation during the COVID-19 PHE, but the time has come where offering in-person visitation is once again preferred. Ensure you are following all of the current guidance so you are compliant with all the Resident Rights requirements.