CAHF Statement on Infection Prevention

For Immediate Release
March 13, 2020

Our providers are facing an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic scenario. Preventing the coronavirus from getting into a facility is the highest priority at skilled nursing facilities right now. 

Regarding new reports about infection prevention deficiencies, we would urge families and the public to take a look at the data behind the headlines.

Deficiency citations are based on scope and severity and the vast majority of citations do not relate to situations that have caused significant harm.  When surveyors do find issues at this level, they can be corrected before escalating. 

Ninety nine percent of deficiencies in California are in this category. Write ups for potential harm can range from a surveyor seeing a food tray where the milk is uncovered to discovering an unknown dried substance on a wheelchair

During the past three years, during more than 3,000 surveys in California, there have been 21 citations for immediate jeopardy. While this represents less than one percent of all infection prevention deficiencies, any lapse is concerning.

When this happens, surveyors will not leave the building until the situation is corrected.  One example: if your high-temp dishwasher does not have sufficient temperature to clean the dishes and disinfect, a facility would receive an IJ level deficiency because residents could be exposed to danger.

Every skilled nursing facility has a designated Infection Preventionist to conduct surveillance of practices, policies and procedures.  The IP also collects data to determine if their are patterns that need to be corrected.  This is a relatively new position in facilities and it is hoped that this extra focus will be beneficial.  

The public should be concerned about all infections whether its influenza, hepatitis or antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA because these infections are common in all healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics and skilled nursing facilities.

We remain grateful to our dedicated nurses and employees who are doing everything humanly possible to protect the well being of elderly nursing home residents in their communities during this pandemic.