Needles, Birth Control go missing from NYC school health centers: Comptroller’s audit

ALBANY (TIP): New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said , January 8, that an audit of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) found that medications and potentially hazardous medical supplies were unaccounted for at its School-Based Health Centers (Centers).

“The state Department of Health oversees the administration of essential health services to thousands of New York City school students at no cost to their families through school-based centers. Unfortunately, our audit found the agency has failed to safeguard inventories of medications and potentially hazardous medical supplies at School-Based Health Centers,” DiNapoli said. “We found too many instances of medication and medical supplies that were missing and that has to be addressed at once. The DOH has reviewed our findings, and I commend them for agreeing to take swift steps to implement controls over inventory that will help protect students and the supplies needed for the crucial delivery of health care to them.”

The DOH operates 222 Centers that provide medical services to nearly 170,000 city students, accounting for about 700,000 health care visits every year. Most Centers – 129 – are on school property. The audit looked at the facilities’ operations between July 1, 2011 and Nov. 21, 2013.

DOH requires the Centers to follow the same inventory controls and record-keeping rules as hospital pharmacies. DiNapoli’s audit sampled 11 health centers serving 47 schools and found they had no procedures to ensure they followed these regulations. Auditors noted that failure to control inventory not only allows important and hazardous medical supplies to go missing, but can also mean that medications are not ordered when they are in low supply or not available when needed.

DiNapoli’s audit also found that 9 of the 11 audited Centers kept no records of the medications they received from or returned to parents and that they kept no record of their contact with parents regarding expired medication or arrangements to return medication at the end of the school year. In addition, the audit found the Centers’ list of drugs-on-hand included medications used to treat ADD/ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder and anxiety conditions that were not in the students’ medication cabinet.

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Officials said they must have either thrown them out or returned them to parents and forgotten to make a record of it.

The DOH agreed to implement DiNapoli’s audit recommendations that it require the Centers to:

Perform periodic physical inventories of medications and sensitive medical supplies;
Document student-supplied medication transactions including type and quantity of the medication received and dispensed as well as contacts with parents; and
Document the disposition of expired medications.

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