Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Information for Healthcare Facilities Concerning 2019 Novel Coronavirus Illness (2019-nCoV)

Pam Truscott

On February 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released QSO 20-09-ALL from the Quality Safety and Oversight Group.  The memorandum addresses information regarding patients with possible Coronavirus illness and healthcare facility expectations.  As concerns arise with the emerging 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat, CMS encourages all healthcare facilities to carefully review the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Because coronavirus infections can rapidly appear and spread, facilities must take steps to prepare, including reviewing their infection prevention and control policies and practices to prevent the spread of infection.  CDC has issued an updated interim Health Alert Network (HAN) Advisory, information about CDC’s response to 2019-nCoV as well as recommendations for healthcare facilities.
Understanding all the various hazards to prepare for emergencies, such as 2019-nCoV, improves patient outcomes and provides protection to residents, family members and staff in healthcare settings.  To ensure health and safety, CMS expects healthcare staff to comply with basic infection control practices.  For 2019 novel coronavirus, CDC is currently advising adherence to Standard, Contact, and Airborne Precautions, including the use of eye protection.  Healthcare staff should adhere to CDC recommendations on standard hand hygiene practices, using alcohol-based hand rub/hand sanitizer (ABHR/ABHS) as the preferred method of hand hygiene in most clinical situations.  When hands are visibly soiled, wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  The entire QSO 20-09-ALL memorandum can be found at:

This is an opportune time for centers to review their Infection Prevention & Control Program and to evaluate the proper use of hand hygiene, precautions and other key practices in the center. 

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