April 4, 2019

QUESTION:        Do the Medicare Conditions of Participation place any requirements on the use of standing orders?


ANSWER:            Yes, they do.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) have established multiple requirements for compliant use of standing orders in the hospital setting.  For example, each standing order must be reviewed and approved by the hospital’s medical staff and nursing and pharmacy leadership prior to use.  CMS emphasizes that this should be a “multi-disciplinary collaborative effort.”  Crucially, each standing order must have clearly identified specific criteria that govern when it will be executed.  CMS is very clear:  “Under no circumstances may a hospital use standing orders in a manner that requires any staff not authorized to write patient orders to make clinical decisions outside of their scope of practice in order to initiate such orders.”

Note that there is some ambiguity in the term “standing order,” and CMS recognizes this.  Consequently, it is possible that some of your pre-printed and electronic order sets could fall outside the scope of this regulation.

As part of your compliance efforts, we recommend periodically reviewing your policies on standing orders, order sets, and protocols for patient orders to ensure compliance with the Conditions of Participation and with state law.  We also recommend periodic compliance audits of medical records to verify that your policies are being implemented appropriately.