Report Highlights Safety Gaps in Patient Care During COVID 

August 10, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Report Highlights Safety Gaps in Patient Care During COVID 
A medical worker works inside a patient room in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Temple University Hospital's Boyer Pavilion in North Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

The World Health Organization has been studying the gap in patient care exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A report published Aug. 5 highlights patient safety issues across all sectors of the health care system.

According to the report, an estimated 134 million adverse events occurred annually due to unsafe care in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries alone, and contributed to 2.6 million deaths. 

Of those deaths, 60% were due to unsafe and poor-quality care, but 40% resulted from the non-utilization of health services. 


The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted safety gaps in health services. Issues ranged from the communication and management of health information, visitation policies, the impact on patients in long-term care settings, disruptions in preventive care, safety of health workers and inequities. 


Telehealth was used during the pandemic to monitor patients, but also showed new safety concerns from diagnostic errors, medication errors, language barriers, inadequate infrastructure and poor internet connection.


The WHO developed a Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 to provide a comprehensive framework to address safety gaps identified in the report. The plan includes the development and implementation of care pathways and guidelines, digital innovations, increasing transparency, data sharing and the breakdown of traditional silos.

Alexa can be reached at [email protected] 

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