CVS store fined for unsafe working conditions and putting customer, staff safety at risk

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A CVS pharmacy in Ohio was fined $250,000 after an investigation by state officials found that it failed to properly staff the location and put employees and customers at risk. 

An investigation initiated in 2021 by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy revealed that customers had experienced “significant delays in obtaining prescriptions,” the store’s phones weren’t working properly, there was a lack of proper drug security and control, and there was a “failure to provide a safe working environment for pharmacy staff.” 

The news comes months after a handful of pharmacists across the industry walked off the job to demand better working conditions. One pharmacist who was part of the walkout spoke to FOX Business on the condition of anonymity and said that the lack of staffing was putting patients’ lives at risk.

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The Ohio Board of Pharmacy discovered that this particular CVS pharmacy was staffed with only one pharmacist who was assisting customers on the phone, taking transfers and verifying prescriptions.

There was one registered technician who was responsible for assisting customers with COVID self-testing in the drive-thru and only one care concierge assisting customers in the drive-thru picking up prescriptions.

The pharmacy told investigators it was short-staffed because it had unexpectedly lost seven staff members all around the same time.

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That was one of the multiple issues investigators found. Some others included finding an unlocked freezer containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine outside the pharmacy barricade and medications being stored on the floor of the pharmacy.

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CVS said it is aware of the board’s decision and will continue to work with it “collaboratively.” 

“The allegations stem from BOP inspections in 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve made great strides to improve the conditions there in the years since, including putting a strong pharmacy team in place that continues to provide high-quality care to patients,” a CVS spokesperson told FOX Business. “We’re committed to ensuring there are appropriate levels of staffing and resources at our pharmacies.”

Aside from the fine, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy issued a list of demands for the store, which is now “subject to an indefinite probationary period.” 

The store must ensure that there is a “sufficient number of personnel scheduled at all times in order to minimize fatigue, distraction, or other conditions which interfere with a pharmacist’s ability to practice with requisite judgment, skill, competence, and safety to the public.” 

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It is also required to develop a process so that its pharmacy staff communicate requests for additional staff or reports of staffing concerns. 

State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steven Schierholt said the goal is to send a “strong message to Ohio pharmacies that they have an obligation to serve their patients by ensuring appropriate staffing levels.” 

In three years, and only after complying with the terms of the board’s order, can the store request to be released from probation.

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