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The Story Behind Our Hospital Interactive

In a five-day hackathon, ProPublica and PBS Frontline team up to create an interactive story exploring six myths about hospitals and patient safety.

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Here at ProPublica, we love to find new ways to tell stories. We’ve built data-driven news apps, commissioned our own news songs and crafted narratives with a novelist’s touch, all to enrich our investigative reporting.

Your Hospital May Be Hazardous To Your Health,” co-published today with PBS Frontline, is our newest try at innovation. And it had an unusual gestation – as part of a five-day hackathon that brought together teams of journalists, filmmakers, developers and designers to produce interactive stories for the Web.

The piece draws from ongoing reporting about patient safety by ProPublica reporters Marshall Allen and Olga Pierce. Our collaborators were documentary filmmakers Tom Jennings and Sabrina Shankman and Director of Development Sam Bailey, all with Frontline, and a team from Ocupop, a web design and development group based in Milwaukee, Wisc.

The hackathon – “Tribeca Hacks: Storytelling Innovation Lab” – is a project of the Tribeca Film Institute and Mozilla that is supported by the Ford Foundation.

Joleen Chambers

May 17, 2013, 1:43 p.m.

This is an excellent tool, full of interactive participation, for patient advocates to use to inform the public.  Thank you for the creative approach to solving the growth of patient harm in hospitals.

This is an excellent video Marshall, and thank you for sharing Dad’s story.  How do you plan to use this outside of social media?  I am sharing immediately with the Maine Quality Counts, and our Consumer advisory council.

Karen Curtiss

May 17, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

Love your video!  You offer such such a fresh approach to presenting hard material. Thank you for including CampaignZERO’s checklists to help prevent infections.  Julia’s questions to ask a surgeon are so important too.

Great job!  Kudos to the entire production team!

Carla Muss-Jacobs

May 18, 2013, 3:11 p.m.

Thank you SO MUCH for all your hard work—all the people that put their time and skills into this, thank you , thank you, thank you!  I’m a patient that had a really bad oopsie doodle happen, and it’s been hell.  All the talking points Marshall made—and the script FANTASTIC—were right, correct and spot on.  The MYTH of medical malpractice.  Boy howdy!  It’s a myth.  The judges are gatekeepers—they don’t let you in!  Not only are lawyers hard to find, if/when a patient is “lucky” enough (knows the right people?!?) then you have to deal with the judge—the gatekeeper to the jury.  It’s like ZELDA on steroids trying to get to the next level.  The legal system is a game and a cruel joke to patients who have been harmed.  Anyway, it’s a wonderfully produced piece.  Well done!! 

All those who hacked away—THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  <————- exclamation points are my virtual hugs!

To all the folks at propub

Many heart felt thanks for your courage and balance in these rough waters.

Sophie Hankes LL.M.

May 19, 2013, 4:59 p.m.

The best publication on the dark side of medicine and its professionals!
In Europe the situation of victims of medical errors is likewise very bad the wall of silence: no acknowledgment, no honest info, no diagnosis, no treatment. And hardly any prevention of medical errors.
Let us work together to help victims of medical errors and their families.
I set up SIN-NL http://www.sin-nl.org and the IEU-Alliance http://www.ieu-alliance.eu
both foundations set up in the Netherlands but active over Europe.
I became disabled by experimental neurosurgery ( without informed consent) by top German neurosurgons,who were backed by a worldfamous top neurosurgeon from Pittsburgh.
The courts in the Netherlands deny me the right to publish documents and facts which prove the medical malpractice. My case is pending at the European Court for Human Rights. Giving up is not option.
Names of websites which are still online on the German doctors with great costs are available at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Patient Safety

Patient Safety: Exploring Quality of Care in the U.S.

More than 1 million patients suffer harm each year while being treated in the U.S. health care system. Even more receive substandard care or costly overtreatment.

The Story So Far

Too many patients suffer harm instead of healing in U.S. medicine. That’s why ProPublica’s reporters have investigated everything from deadly dialysis centers and dangerous hospitals to the failure of state boards to discipline incompetent nurses.


This page allows patients, providers and readers to join the patient safety conversation. Our goal is to find out why so many patients are suffering harm and highlight the best ways to solve the problem. Here you’ll find regular updates, and places to share your stories, views or expertise.

Read all of our posts on patient safety, and find out how to get involved.

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Icon graphics courtesy of the Noun Project.

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