DNV to return to unannounced surveys September 7

by A.J. Plunkett (aplunkett@decisionhealth.com)

DNV Healthcare accredited hospitals, critical access hospitals, and psychiatric hospitals should be aware that the accreditation organization (AO) is returning to unannounced, onsite surveys as of September 7.

“This includes initial accreditation, annual/periodic surveys, follow-ups, special surveys, complaint investigations, and reaccreditation surveys,” said the AO in its announcement July 1.

Earlier this year, DNV indicated it was going to join other hospital AOs and CMS in conducting triennial surveys onsite and unannounced, but would continue to do their annual check-in surveys remotely as needed.

All the AOs and CMS delayed or suspended surveys last year during the height of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) unless a complaint was serious enough to necessitate a visit. Eventually AOs moved to conducting some survey elements remotely if the hospital was not in the middle of a COVID surge.

Earlier this year, as AOs began to renew onsite, unannounced surveys and to catch up on survey backlogs, they left open the possibility of delaying visits if the hospital was in the middle of a COVID emergency and could not guarantee the safety of surveyors.

“Now that COVID-19 prevalence rates are down, vaccines are widely available, and travel restrictions are being lifted, all indicators are pointing towards a return to full onsite annual surveys,” said the DNV notice.

“We acknowledge that normal variations in our year-over-year survey scheduling, combined with a return to unannounced onsite visits, will cause some uncertainty for our customers who expect annual survey in August or September,” said DNV officials.

“This notice allows us adequate lead time for surveyor scheduling and cost-effective travel planning but does not leave room for changes or new exclusion requests. If your facility is due for annual/periodic survey in this timeframe, we encourage you to stay prepared for an advance notification of remote survey throughout July and August. If you do not receive advance notice by August 30, expect an unannounced onsite survey after the Labor Day holiday,” according to the notice.

While the state of the PHE is improved, DNV acknowledged that might change.

The current declaration of the PHE “remains in effect until at least July 19, 2021 and is expected to continue throughout calendar 2021. DNV will continue to monitor the PHE, along with local and national conditions using weekly data provided by CMS and CDC. We will adhere to any AO process changes that may be required by CMS and communicate any future adjustments as they emerge.”