Understaffing at CVS Pharmacies in Ohio Lead to Concerns About Patient Safety


The Ohio Board of Pharmacy found during several inspections that some CVS stores in the state had dirty conditions, a lack of control over dangerous medications, and months-long wait times for medications.

CVS pharmacies across Ohio have been experiencing severe understaffing issues that have led to serious problems with patient care, the Ohio Capital Journal reported.1 The lack of control over medications has raised concerns with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which sent inspectors to several CVS locations to assess the situation.

What’s the Issue?

CVS, which is the largest pharmacy retailer in the United States, has been buying up competitors, closing them, and moving their prescriptions to CVS pharmacies for several years. This has resulted in CVS employees being overworked and stressed that they cannot perform their job safely.

  • The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has inspected at least 13 CVS pharmacies in the state since 2020 in response to complaints from patients.2
  • In reports obtained by the Ohio Capital Journal, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy said that some CVS locations are so understaffed that there is dirty conditions, a lack of control over dangerous medications, months-long wait times, and high employee turnover.

Why it Matters

The conditions and staffing issues at some CVS pharmacy locations in Ohio could pose a threat to the safety of patients and employees.

  • One employee stated that she worked 14-hour days with few breaks, which made her worry that she could not do her job properly.
  • The Ohio Board of Pharmacy found several instances where understaffed CVS locations did not have proper controls to ensure employees were not stealing controlled substance, like narcotics.
  • At another CVS location, the staff were too busy to retrieve a drug delivery from the front of the store for 9 days.

Expert Commentary

  • “Shelving for drug storage had collapsed and medications were crushed beneath the shelving units. Drug stock crowded the aisle floors,” the Ohio Board of Pharmacy report said. “The counter used for non-sterile compounding was overflowing with (over-the-counter) medications and return-to-stock bottles. Staff food and beverages were also stored in this area. Moldy/rotting food was found on the counter.”
  • “Understaffing is pretty deliberate from our upper and middle management,” Iggy Aleksick, a pharmacy technician at a CVS in Ohio, told the Ohio Capital Journal. “It’s not that we don’t have people to work, it’s that we’re not allowed to be scheduled.”
  • “We’re working with the Board of Pharmacy to resolve allegations of isolated incidents, most of which date back a year or more,” Amy Thibault, director of communications for CVS Pharmacy, said in an email to the Ohio Capital Journal. “The health and well-being of our patients is our number one priority.”

In Depth Insights

In response to the understaffing and patient safety issues at several CVS pharmacies, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy proposed sweeping new rules.3

  • The new rules would mandate staffing, set a maximum time to fill prescriptions, give pharmacists greater authority to suspend non-core services, and prohibit retaliation against employees who follow the rules.
  • The rules will be subjected to a public comment period before being implemented.

Extra Reading

For more on this issue, check out these articles.

1. Schladen M. “Corners are cut to dispense prescriptions,” CVS employee tells Ohio Board of Pharmacy. News Report. Ohio Capital Journal. July 7, 2023. Accessed September 13, 2023.
2. Schladen M. Inspectors find more serious problems at Ohio CVS pharmacies. News Report. Ohio Capital Journal. August 25, 2023. Accessed September 13, 2023.
3. Schladen M. Ohio Board of Pharmacy proposes sweeping new regs to deal with understaffing. News Report. Ohio Capital Journal. August 15, 2023. Accessed September 13, 2023.
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