In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released “To Err is Human,” a landmark report on patient safety asserting that medical errors kill 44,000 to 98,000 patients every year.
Now nearly 20 years later, the son of a leading patient-safety advocate has directed a documentary with the same title. It cites even bigger numbers of deaths from “preventable adverse events”—up to 440,000 a year, based on a 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety.
Mike Eisenberg is also editor and producer of the film, which explores medical mistakes as a “silent epidemic” and follows those working to improve patient safety behind the scenes. The movie is dedicated to the filmmaker's father, Dr. John Eisenberg, an early leader of patient-safety efforts who was a director of the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.
“Through this film, we hope to carry on (Eisenberg senior's) legacy by providing a productive look at healthcare quality today and how we can do better, rather than presenting a 'gotcha' documentary,” Mike Eisenberg says of the film's mission on its website.
The documentary features hospital executives, healthcare leaders, health professors and families severely affected by medical mistakes.
The Tall Tale-produced film has been screened at universities, festivals and agencies across the country and is expected to be released to the public this year.
After a screening at Yale New Haven Hospital, CEO Marna Borgstrom praised the film. “I think this an amazing project that once you get this to the public you are going to have an incredible impact in all of healthcare,” Borgstrom told Eisenberg during a panel discussion, according to Yale Medicine Magazine. “There isn't anything more important.”