Lean Blog Interviews — 329: Mike Eisenberg, The Film “To Err is Human” and the Patient Safety Emergency

Joining me today for Episode #329 of the podcast is Mike Eisenberg, the director, editor, and producer of the film “To Err is Human,” a documentary about the incredibly important issue of patient safety. The film shares a title with the groundbreaking 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine.

The film is available on as a digital download (through iTunes and other platforms) and a Blu-ray or DVD (through Amazon) and there also screenings taking place around the country (and you can arrange one at your organization).

In our conversation, Mike and I talk about the scale and breadth of patient safety problems, some of the systemic causes, and some of the solutions that are being tried and used in healthcare. The term “Lean” is not a part of the film, but Mike said he’s become aware of the alignment between Lean and systemic patient safety improvement, but there are limitations to what could be put into a 77-minute film. But, there are common themes including not blaming “bad apples” and improving the way care is delivered in a systematic way.

I had the opportunity to watch the film before the interview — it’s very powerful and well produced. I hope you’ll check out the film, whether you are a patient or a healthcare professional (or leader). It’s important that we help the public understand that patient safety can’t be taken for granted… and it’s important that hospitals step up their efforts on this front.