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Educating Students on an Alarming Issue

Two women and four men seated at a table for a panel discussion
November 6, 2018

Health Care Management students learn about preventable medical errors that occur with staggering regularity in the U.S.

Some studies have cited an adverse event rate of one out of every three hospital admissions!

But there is an unreasonable expectation of perfection in medicine. People do make mistakes. It’s those that are preventable that need to be called out as learning tools for a safer medical industry.

Being aware of the problem is the first step. LSBE’s Department of Economics' Health Care Management (HCM) Program in partnership with the Duluth campuses of the University of Minnesota Medical School and College of Pharmacy, Essentia Health, and St. Luke's recently held a public screening of the documentary To Err is Human followed by a Q&A session with a high-caliber panel of medical experts and the filmmaker.

More than 120 people—UMD students, faculty, local health care professionals, and other community members—attended the October event at the Zeitgeist’s Teatro Zuccone Theater in Duluth.

LSBE students, who comprised more than 40 percent of the audience, felt this issue was important for them and their career plans. Several HCM students shared their reflections on the film.

“The filmmakers did a great job of not using scare tactics. Instead, they give the viewer hope by sharing what organizations today are doing to combat the emergency of patient safety and what everyone as individuals can do to help," said HCM student Joe Samec.

“Until there is a system that allows for and incentivizes transparent and clear reporting of errors, we'll never be able to fully understand and address what allowed those errors to occur in the first place,” said Assistant Professor of Economics/Health Care Management Program, Annalisa Peterson who was instrumental in bringing this issue to Duluth and to her students.

To Err is Human sheds light on this and shares current initiatives to continue moving the needle on this critical issue,” said Peterson. “This is an especially important topic for our students here at UMD to grapple with as they study to become the health care leaders and providers of the future.”

Panelists included filmmaker, Michael Eisenberg (son of the late patient safety pioneer, John Eisenberg); Dr. Paula Termuhlen, Dean of the Duluth Campus of the University of Minnesota Medical School; Dr. Paul Ranelli, faculty at the Duluth Campus of the College of Pharmacy; Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, physician and patient quality and safety officer at Essentia Health; and Kathy Johnson, Director of Quality Management at St. Luke's. 

They tackled questions, such as “How do local health care systems currently respond when an adverse health outcome or medical error occurs in Duluth?” and “What are some patient safety initiatives in place in Duluth?”

Despite the challenges in addressing preventable harm in medicine, there is hope for improvement.

Filmmaker Michael Eisenberg puts it this way. “There are examples all over the country (and world) of people using their newfound knowledge to create change, not only in the way they deliver medicine but in establishing a culture of safety. We wouldn't have been able to make To Err Is Human the way we did if there weren't people proving that success in this field is possible with the right focus and effort.”

More information about the film, including its official trailer, can be found at

Learn more about LSBE’s Department of Economics' Health Care Management (HCM) Program.