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A prescription for supporting patient safety

March 28, 2024 |3 minute read time

Male pharmacist helping woman and child at counter

Every year, millions of patients come to CVS Pharmacy® with their health needs, and we’re passionate about delivering high-quality pharmacy care. To support our patients and customers, we put safety above everything else. 

Our retail pharmacists and technicians approach this responsibility with seriousness and dedication, and we work hard to provide outstanding care for our pharmacy patients.

Driving patient safety

Our pharmacies filled more than 1.6 billion prescriptions in 2023, as well as administered vaccinations, answered patients’ questions and provided counseling and advice.

Investments in technology, training and other support services are crucial to supporting our teams in meeting our patients’ many pharmacy care needs.  
Our most recent enhancements include: 

  • Implementing SmartDUR, a new tool that streamlines support of pharmacists in the Drug Utilization Review (DUR) process, helping reduce repetitive alerts, and driving improved patient outcomes and pharmacy experience. 

  • Sharing workload across our pharmacies, improving workflow and workload balance, and creating efficiency and capacity so pharmacists can focus on interaction with patients and other aspects of patient care. 

  • Implementing innovations in our prescription verification process and systems to equip our pharmacists with advanced technology to support quality assurance checks on each prescription prior to dispensing. 

  • Enhancing our cold chain equipment and monitoring and alert systems to support product integrity. 

  • Automating 90% of data entry for e-prescriptions in our retail pharmacies, helping reduce the risk of human error and improving quality and patient safety.  

  • Transitioning our prescription pick-up process from an alphabetic to a numeric system, creating an additional safeguard and improving the patient experience.


Continuous patient safety improvements

CVS Pharmacy has an excellent patient safety record, and we have a rigorous, continuous quality improvement program in place to support ongoing safety improvements. 

While prescription errors are rare, mistakes unfortunately may occur.  

When we learn of a prescription error, the first priority of our pharmacy teams is caring for the patient by taking steps to correct the error and working with the patient and the prescriber. 

When we do make an error, we take steps to learn from it to continuously improve quality and patient safety. We do that in partnership with a patient safety organization, or “PSO,” federally certified under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.

A “Just Culture”

At CVS Pharmacy, we foster what’s known in the health care industry as a “Just Culture,” a framework that treats colleagues fairly, encouraging the reporting of errors within a protected environment without fear of punitive action. 

We actively educate our field leaders on the importance of this framework and the value of our colleagues’ feedback in our efforts to drive patient safety and quality.

Providing a protected environment for our colleagues and encouraging the reporting of errors and other patient safety events improves the care we provide to our patients and ensures our colleagues are supported. 

Recognizing excellence in safety

We know safety is central to service, which is why we celebrate colleagues that demonstrate their commitment to patient safety and quality care. 

Each year we recognize colleagues who demonstrate their commitment to safety and quality. Our Excellence in Patient Safety and Quality Standards Award is given to colleagues who cultivate a culture of safety in their pharmacies. 

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