Evaluation of Patient Safety Culture in Community Pharmacies

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Medication errors are common in community pharmacies. Safety culture is considered a factor for medication safety but has not been measured in this setting. The objectives of this study were to describe safety culture measured using the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture and to assess predictors of overall patient safety.


This is a cross-sectional survey of community pharmacists practicing in Wisconsin measuring safety culture. Demographic variables collected included pharmacist and pharmacy characteristics. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, χ2, and multivariate logistic regression analyses.


A total of 445 surveys were completed (response rate, 82%). Safety culture was positively associated with the following: an independent pharmacy (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–2.57), a health maintenance organization or clinic (AOR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.34–3.78), being somewhat familiar with patients (AOR, 3.35; 95% CI, 1.82–6.19), or very/extremely familiar with patients (AOR, 8.8; 95% CI, 4.68–16.59). Five of the composite scores differed significantly from the results of the AHRQ pilot study (response to mistakes, communication openness, organizational learning–continuous improvement, communication about prescriptions across shifts, and overall patient safety). Consistent with the AHRQ pilot study, the composite describing staffing, work pressure, and pace had the lowest score (37.6%).


Understanding the safety culture of community pharmacies can help identify areas of strength and those that require improvement. Improvement efforts that focus on staffing, work pressure, and pace in community pharmacies may lead to better safety culture.

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