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Nursing Homes Conducting Point-of-Care Testing Must Report COVID-19 Results Through NHSN

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has revised prior guidance to require nursing home limited service labs that are conducting point-of-care COVID-19 tests to report results via the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Although the updated guidance is still dated June 4th, we have been advised by LeadingAge National that it was modified last week. The pertinent section reads:

CMS-certified long-term care facilities shall submit point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 testing data, including antigen testing data, to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). This requirement to submit data to CDC’s NHSN applies only to CMS-certified long-term care facilities. Test data submitted to NHSN will be reported to appropriate state and local health departments using standard electronic laboratory messages. Other types of LTC facilities may voluntarily report testing data in NHSN for self-tracking or to fulfill state or local reporting requirements, if any.

Nursing homes that conduct point-of-care tests will also have to continue to report results through New York State's Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS) unless and until further guidance is issued by the Department of Health’s (DOH) Wadsworth Labs. LeadingAge NY has contacted Wadsworth Labs about the burden of the duplicative requirements.

The federal requirement to report through NHSN applies only to nursing homes and requires Level 3 security access through NHSN. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated that they will exercise enforcement flexibility until Nov. 20, 2020 for those nursing homes that can show that they have made a good faith attempt to acquire the necessary security upgrade. This process can take up to four weeks, so facilities that have not yet completed or initiated security enhancement should email NHSN immediately to begin this process. More information about increasing NHSN Secure Access Management Services (SAMS) access is available here. Information about NHSN point-of-care test reporting is available here.

Contact: Karen Lipson, klipson@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8838