Key findings for a Jan. 5 report from the Government Accountability Office showed that the military at large, and the Army in particular, does not consistently monitor the post-traumatic stress medication prescriptions supplied to service members.
The report focused on the continuation of care for transitioning service members, and specifically on how the Army tracks prescriptions for mental health medication, said Debra Draper, director of the health care team at the Government Accountability Office.
While the Veterans Health Administration does monitor and track both benzodiazepines, a sedative, and antipsychotics, the Army does not, which can leave blind spots in a patient’s treatment. The guidelines for post-traumatic stress disorder discourage the use of benzodiazepines and antipsychotics. In 2012, the Army issued a policy requiring military treatment facilities to review their prescribing practices for the drugs, but the report notes that this expired in 2014.
Additionally, the report recommends that the Veterans Health Administration more clearly define “mental health medication” in order to ensure patients are not cut off from treatment while transitioning out of the military.
“[Veterans Health Administration] providers GAO interviewed had varying interpretations of which medications are covered by this policy, and VHA officials acknowledged that the definition of a mental health medication could be subjective,” reads the report.
An unclear policy, especially one that is open to interpretation could cause troops or veterans to lose access to much-needed medication, explained Draper, who oversaw the report.
“The policy should be clear so that medications are not being discontinued inappropriately because that can cause harm to veterans and service members transitioning from the military,” she told Task & Purpose.
The Government Accountability Office report recommended that the Army monitor its prescribing practice of medications and that the Veterans Health Administration clarify its medication continuation policy.