The Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center released a statement late this week acknowledging VA employees in Charleston misused their federally issued purchase cards.

A federal audit published Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General shows Engineering Service cardholders at the hospital made "about $274,000 of unauthorized commitments and approximately $372,000 of purchases that lacked sufficient documentation" during a 20-month time period between 2011 and 2013.

The report concluded that employees were "splitting purchases to circumvent the $3,000 micro-purchase limit."

"While all of the items purchased were required for delivery of health care and operation of the medical center, procedural issues were found with the purchase card program," said VA spokeswoman Tonya Lobbestael, in a prepared statement.

The report does not indicate that any employees used the purchase cards for personal reasons.

All purchase card holders and approving officials at the hospital are now required to complete remedial training, Lobbestael said.

The VA Medical Center in Charleston has come under scrutiny this month for other reasons, too. Last week, a federal report showed one patient may have died more than three years ago because of a delay in care.

In other news, a North Charleston man was fined $500 for failing to pay for a soft drink refill in the hospital's cafeteria on Wednesday. The citation was later downgraded to a warning.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.