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USPS OIG – Processing and Delivery of Veterans Affairs Medicine

December 18, 2023

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Office of Inspector General OIG

Background

The U.S. Postal Service provides a critical service to the American public by delivering essential items such as prescription medications and medical supplies. U.S. Veterans depend on this critical service for reliable and timely delivery of their medications. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 330,000 Veterans receive a prescription in the mail each workday. These prescriptions are fulfilled by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy. Packages shipped using the Postal Service accounted for a percentage of the VA Pharmacy medication packages shipped in fiscal year (FY) 2022. The Postal Service emphasizes the importance of accurate scanning as a measure of success for how well they deliver for their customers. From June 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, the Postal Service processed and delivered a number of VA Pharmacy packages.

What We Did

Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s processing and delivery of Veterans Affairs Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy medications. We interviewed Postal Service management, obtained and analyzed Postal Service data, and visited Veterans Affairs Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy and third-party shipper locations to observe operations. Additionally, we judgmentally selected and visited 14 Postal Service facilities where we interviewed local management and employees and observed processing and delivery practices for medication packages.

What We Found

We found that while the Postal Service processed and delivered a large majority of the VA Pharmacy packages on time, the processing facilities visited did not always handle damaged medication packages or medication found loose in the mail as required by policy. In addition, we found Postal Service employees did not always accurately scan Priority Mail shipments and Veterans Affairs Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy packages processed and delivered through the Postal Service network.

Recommendations

We recommended management develop and implement recurring training for handling damaged medication packages and medication found loose in the mail; develop and implement a process to review scanning performance; provide recurring training to employees responsible for conducting the scans and enforce compliance with scanning requirements; and develop and implement a control to prevent improper duplicate “Delivered” scans on the same package.

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