Efficiency, Safety, and Compliance: A Guide to Choosing the Right Pharmacy Carts

An innerspace pharmacy cart with a drawer open to show drawer dividers to hold medications and other pharmacy supplies

Can your pharmacy carts impact your bottom line?

Yes, they can. 

Medication errors are a leading cause of preventable injuries in health care, affecting 1 in 30 patients, according to the World Health Organization and BioMed Central Ltd. And more than 25 percent of medication errors cause critical or life-threatening injuries. 

Of course, security is just as important as safety when choosing a pharmacy cart. Drug diversion in hospitals costs facilities thousands of dollars in legal fees and fines. 

And in every healthcare setting, efficiency counts. Your medication carts should be designed to help your staff provide efficient care without compromising safety. 

To help your staff administer medications safely, securely, and efficiently, consider the following features before choosing pharmacy carts for your hospital. 


Drug diversion is a serious problem in healthcare. And, unfortunately, many drug diversions go unreported or undetected. 

Drug diversions impact patients, staff, and facilities. Diverted narcotics may leave patients without adequate pain relief and cost facilities hefty fines and penalties. The cost to the facility’s reputation may impact its future revenues. 

The Joint Commission requires hospitals to develop policies and procedures to protect against drug diversion, identify drug diversion activity, and protect whistleblowers. 

Choosing trackable pharmacy cart lock systems can help deter drug diversions. With the InnerSpace InterConnect lock system, you can allow access via badge swipe, PIN or badge swipe, or both PIN and badge swipe. 

The InterConnect lock system can also be linked to the InnerSpace Cloud platform, allowing managers to track cart users. In the event of a drug diversion, investigators can use the customizable reporting feature to trace users by name and time of access. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires that all drugs be secured against unauthorized or unaccompanied access. 

CMS guidance indicates that mobile pharmacy carts should not be stored in an unsecured area due to their ease of transport. If pharmacy carts are not in active use, they must be moved to a secured area, such as a locked pharmacy storage room. 

Consider pharmacy carts equipped with locks that trigger automatically after a set period of inactivity. 

Upgrading to locks accessed by a key code or badge swipe lock, rather than a lock that requires a physical key, ensures that staff can access medications urgently. Keys can be misplaced or carried off the floor, leaving staff without access to patient drugs.  


Patient safety is the number one priority for hospitals. 

According to the Joint Commission, crash carts, a type of medication cart, continue to be a patient safety concern. A lack of supply organization, infrequent cart checks, and inadequate locks or security measures can lead to medication errors and compromise patient safety.

Configurable drawers and accessories that attach to the cart, like a sharps container, can help keep supplies and medications logically arranged, reducing the chance of errors.  


Having high-use supplies and workspaces available on your pharmacy carts can improve efficiency. 

Reduce the number of times staff need to walk away from the pharmacy cart by choosing a cart that can accommodate the supplies your staff needs. Provide more lighting by attaching an LED task light. Or add a monitor arm and keyboard tray to make charting more efficient. 

InnerSpace’s pharmacy cart comes standard with a chart holder, glove box holder, and disinfectant holder. Also included are a flip-up work table, two security lock boxes, two 3-inch pharmacy trays, and room for other accessories. 

Choosing the right size cart with adjustable drawer dividers helps staff keep frequently used supplies close at hand and makes it easy to identify medications nearing the expiration date. 

Mobile pharmacy carts are small but powerful tools in a busy hospital unit. InnerSpace’s Pace carts with pharmacy cart configuration come in varying heights, allowing you to choose the right size for your space. 

Choosing pharmacy carts with security features can help satisfy the requirements of federal regulatory agencies. But more importantly, choosing pharmacy carts that improve patient safety, bolster medication security, and increase staff efficiency can save your facility valuable resources. 

cindy blye

Cindy Blye

Content Writer

Cindy Blye, BSN, RN, CCM is a Registered Nurse and Certified Case Manager. She is an Alumni of West Virginia University School of Nursing (BSN), and a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and The Authors Guild.