TOPSY-TURVY: Capitol asked to probe prov’l hospitals’ ‘messy’ inventories

By: Gerome Dalipe

UNORGANIZED and scattered stockpiling of inventories. Invalid inter-hospital transfers of medicines.  Lack of ideal storage facility for medicines.

These are some of the concerns the state auditors discovered in the operations of several district hospitals being managed by the Iloilo Provincial Government.

The Commission on Audit (COA), in its annual report, scored the Provincial Government for failing to enforce the provincial hospitals’ policies and controls.

For instance, the hospitals lacked periodic physical check of their inventories, lack of safekeeping areas and questionable inter-hospital transfers of medicines and supplies.

This resulted in “variances and discrepancies in the stock card balances, unorganized and scattered stockpiling, and invalid transfers, exposing the hospital inventories to the risk of deterioration and reduction of its quality and effectiveness.”

Such discrepancies could also lead to possible loss through theft, pilferage and unaccounted releases, the auditors said.

Sec. 123 of Presidential Decree 1445 defines internal control as the plan of organization and all the coordinate methods and measures adopted within an organization or agency to safeguard its assets, check the accuracy and reliability of its accounting data and encourage adherence to prescribed managerial policies.

The National Guidelines on Internal Control Systems provides policies, rules, and regulations in every management system that support and become integral to the operations.

They guide and communicate management actions at all levels and ensure that operating activities are performed within the standards prescribed in each system.

But a review of the hospitals’ procedures and audit of inventory accounts in 2018 showed the guidelines provided in the manual for the hospital’s property and supply management were not followed.

“Thus, it resulted in improper storage and safekeeping, reconciled inventory balances and invalid inter-hospital transfers of medicines and supplies,” the auditors said.

The auditors also discovered that the intravenous fluids were stored in a hot and humid area for lack of an ideal storage facility. Some of the IV fluids were even left in the hallways.

“This situation posed risk on the quality of the IV fluids and its potential pilferage,” the auditors said.

Verification by state auditors showed the hospital’s bookkeeper also acts as the supply officer.

The supply officer also said that she could not perform her position since the previous officer did not properly turn over to him the complete list of stock and inventories.

The auditors also urged the hospital chiefs not to allow the bookkeeper to act as supply officer as well.

The auditors also asked the governor to direct the Hospital Management Office and the hospital administration coordinate with the Internal Audit Services to review, evaluate and update the existing policies.

The governor is also asked to create an inventory committee to be responsible in the periodic physical inventory, reconciliation of balances with the inventory ledgers and accounting records.

The investigation should focus on the cause of variances, preparation of the report, and imposition of accountability against responsible personnel.

The governor is also urged to ask the accountant to conduct a perpetual physical inventory to regularly monitor the integrity of inventory reports submitted by the storekeeper and pharmacist.

The inventory aims at preserving the quality, physical controls, and access to avoid theft, deterioration and misuse of stocks.