New COVID-19 testing guidance for nursing homes released by CMS
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes have been an area of focus due to the compromised populations they serve and to the increased risk of spread within an institution. Many testing interventions have been tailored specifically for nursing homes, and the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed recommendations for how testing should be performed in this environment.
CMS released additional information on how COVID-19 testing should be approached in nursing homes, answering 12 frequently asked questions. These questions address a variety of considerations, including:
- What sources to use in determining local disease prevalence;
- How to respond for certain modifications CMS has made to its recommendations;
- What is considered an outbreak and how to test during one;
- Who is required to perform the testing;
- How to approach visitors or workers who are present infrequently;
- How to approach potential false-positive results and how to avoid them;
- What to do if the facility is struggling to meet reporting requirements;
- If emergency medical services (EMS) staff should be tested; and
- Specific turnaround time requirements and definitions.
These considerations and a deeper background into each are addressed thoroughly, providing nursing homes and those performing their testing with better guidance on recommended testing protocols.
CMS’s frequently asked questions document provides an excellent resource for clinical laboratories to provide information for nursing homes they serve. Clinical laboratories wishing to view the full document can do so here.