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Visitation Restrictions and COVID-19 Focus Infection Control Survey Procedures

Posted Feb 22, 20222 min Read

Regulatory & Clinical

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued important updated guidance in a memo (QSO-21-08-NLTC) regarding how acute and continuing care facilities—including hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, end-stage renal disease facilities, home health agencies, nursing homes and hospices—manage infection control procedures in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • The focused infection control survey tool was developed to emphasize specifically infection prevention and control practices for combating COVID-19. This tool was determined to no longer be necessary as health care facilities have incorporated COVID-19 management into their infrastructure and operations. CMS instructed surveyors to return to the standard survey process and assess COVID-19 infection prevention and practices as part of those activities.
  • A focused infection control survey may still be used by surveyors on a targeted, case by case basis as needed. Your history of infection control, complaints and outbreaks of COVID-19 will be considered by the Indiana State Department of Health when a focused survey will be completed.

CMS has not removed requirements to have COVID-19 infection control procedures and practices in place; rather, it has changed the survey process for verifying these procedures.


CMS has determined that continued federal guidance on visitation restrictions for acute and continuing care facilities is no longer necessary.

  • CMS instructed facilities to consult with state and local public health officials to determine if modifications to visitation and screening are appropriate on a case-by-case basis, allowing for more prescriptive state health requirements.
  • CMS emphasized any requirements may impose only reasonable limits on visitation and be consistent with regulations such as 42 CFR 482.13(h), 42 CFR 483.420(a)(9) and 42 CFR 418.110€, which give patients a federal right to receive visitors at any time, subject to minimal restrictions.

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About the Author

Lori Davenport, Director of Clinical & Regulatory Affairs