WHO publishes Global Patient Safety Report 2024

The report provides valuable insight into the progress countries are making to prevent avoidable harm to patients and reduce risks through establishing systems to support safe practices, technologies and environments

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the Global Patient Safety Report 2024, which gives the first insight into the state of patient safety globally and highlights key areas for improvement. The report found that since the Global Patient Safety Action Plan (GPSAP) 2021–2030 was adopted in 2021, the implementation of policies, programmes, and strategic interventions to improve patient safety is on track, although progress against a number of core indicators has been limited.

The report provides a valuable, and previously unavailable, insight into the progress countries are making to prevent avoidable harm to patients and reduce risks through establishing systems to support safe practices, technologies and environments.

The report found that only around one-third of countries have developed national action plans and programmes for patient safety, despite patient safety being recognised as a global health priority. At the same time, over 70 per cent of countries have made commendable progress in working towards establishing national programmes for the occupational health and safety of health workers.

Patients’ easy access to their medical records is fundamental to improving safety, and currently, around 80 per cent of countries have established procedures in place. However, globally, patient engagement and funding to implement patient safety interventions are areas of particular concern. Only 11 per cent of countries reported that sufficient financial resources were allocated to implement all planned patient safety interventions.

In 2023, World Patient Safety Day focused on the critical importance of patient and family engagement. Despite this, the report revealed a lack of emphasis on patient and family engagement, with only 13 per cent of countries having patient representatives on the governing board of the majority (> 60 per cent) of hospitals. It is imperative that patients or family members of those who have experienced avoidable harm are engaged in designing solutions and shared decision-making at the point of care.   

“Unsafe care affects millions of patients each year; an estimated 1 in 10 patients will experience harm from adverse events whilst receiving healthcare,” said Dr Rudi Eggers, Director of Integrated Health Services Department, WHO. “The Global patient safety report is a critical milestone in our efforts to enhance patient safety globally. It highlights the progress made and the challenges that remain, calling for concerted action to protect patients from harm. We urge all Member States and stakeholders to prioritise patient safety as a fundamental component of universal health coverage.”

This is the first global report on the implementation of the Global Patient Safety Action Plan (GPSAP) 2021–2030, adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2021 to improve patient safety in all settings and at all levels of care provision. Recognising that patient safety is fundamentally a systems issue, the action plan employs a comprehensive approach that supports the provision of safe care.

The report measures the progress of over 100 Member States against 7 strategic objectives established in GPSAP: policy development; building reliable organisations; ensuring the safety of clinical processes; engaging patients and families; enhancing health worker education, skills and safety; improving information, research and risk management; and fostering synergy, partnerships and solidarity. 

The WHO Global Patient Safety Report is an essential resource for policy-makers, clinical leaders, health and care workers, patient safety advocates, academics and researchers. It provides valuable insights into specific areas requiring attention and investment, recognising the uneven progress in patient safety measures across different regions. WHO will continue to work with all stakeholders to use the data from this report to target interventions and build stronger, safer health systems. 


Edits made by EH News Bureau

Global HealthGlobal Patient Safety Action Plan (GPSAP) 2021–2030Global Patient Safety Report 2024WHO
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