CVS Addresses Complaints of Understaffing, Prescription Errors


The Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy fined CVS Health $125,000 after receiving multiple complaints about errors and overwhelmed staff members.

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CVS defended its actions, but still settled with the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy, after the pharmacy board charged the drugstore chain with prescription errors, inadequate staffing, and other offenses.

The pharmacy board fined CVS Health $125,000 after receiving multiple complaints about errors and overwhelmed staff members, The New York Times reported last week.1 The board inspected 4 pharmacies in particular from mid-2019 to early 2020.

CVS Pharmacy agreed to Board Orders from the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy to resolve the complaints filed against the 4 pharmacies, the retailer said in a statement provided to Drug Topics®. “The agreement is not an admission to the allegations within the complaints. We’ve agreed to settle this matter to avoid the time and expense of a protracted hearing process and to foster a positive working relationship with the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy,” CVS Pharmacy said.

According to the article, in an audit, inspectors discovered an error rate of approximately 22%, or 66 errors out of 305 prescriptions. Some of the errors were minor, but others were more significant.1

At 1 CVS store in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, inspectors found a 6% error rate, including the wrong dose of an antibiotic for a 1-year-old and multiple errors involving the frequency of a narcotic.1

At the store, inspectors “witnessed a chaotic scene including the phones ringing almost all of the time, along with constant foot traffic and drive thru traffic,” according to a complaint, The New York Times reported.

The head pharmacist noted that she had lost a considerable amount of her support staff, so she “was not terribly surprised that an error could have occurred,” according to The New York Times.1

In its statement, CVS said that patient safety is the company’s “highest priority and we have an excellent safety record, however we are committed to continually improving by using technology and training to enhance accuracy, regularly measuring the quality of our pharmacy services, monitoring our performance to improve processes, and listening to feedback from our pharmacists and pharmacy teams.”

“Our decisions about staffing, labor hours, workflow process, technology enhancements and other operational factors are all made to ensure that we have appropriate levels of staffing and resources in place at each pharmacy for the safe and accurate filling of prescriptions. If a pharmacist has a legitimate concern about working conditions, we make every effort to address that concern in good faith,” CVS added. 

CVS also agreed to distribute a memo to its pharmacists in Oklahoma highlighting a law that requires them to take action if working conditions in their pharmacies could lead to problems safely filling prescriptions, The New York Times reported.1 “The memo is to make clear that they are not to face retaliation for documenting and reporting such issues.”


1. Gabler, E. CVS fined for prescription errors and Poor staffing at pharmacies. The New York Times.July 16, 2020. Accessed July 19, 2020.

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