Preying on Patients

Preying on Patients

52 Min - Documentary - 2009


The German and French national health care systems range among the world’s most costly. Year after year they become more expensive. And yet, medical care deteriorates. No private insurance? Be ready to wait in line for an appointment, expect hurried examinations and hefty co-payments. How did we get to this point? What is going on behind the scenes of health care system? Who is pulling the strings?


„Preying on Patients“ illuminates on many levels the web that doctors, pharmaceutical concerns, politicians and investors spin around the ill and sick. in a multi billion business, the patient becomes the pawn, the expense, the prey.

In the struggle about the pricing of a new medication in ophthalmology, the industry’s long arm reaches far into the highest potical circles. Why is it, that a moderately priced drug with a proven record of effectiveness should be replaced by a more expensive one?

After getting her third shot of a new vaccine, a young girl develops a dangerous paralysis. Only later does she learn about the vaccines disputed effectiveness. Why was she not properly informed about the drug’s potential risks and benefits before the injection? And why did even official bodies in the health care system overstate the effectiveness of the medication?

After the privatization of a hospital a sudden rise in medical malpractice and fatalities occurs. As investigation ensues the public prosecutor rises serious allegations: Did the the new owner and chief physician administer erroneous and unneccessary treatment out of financial motives? Why and to whom are local authorities in Germany and France selling their clinics? And what are the consequences?

In the struggle over distribution of the health care billions, the liberal doctors compete directly with the pharmaceutical companies and the owners of hospitals. Physicians have been complaining about stagnating fees for years. From their point of view, medical care cannot be maintained with the low remuneration paid by the statutory health insurers. To keep up their incomes, especially German doctors have come to treat more and more patients per day. But how can a reliable diagnosis be made in an average treatment time of eight minutes?

„Preying on Patients“ attempts to unravel some knots of the enormous health care web. Carefully researched case stories uncover long term strategies and motives of the health system’s different players – and how they carry out their struggle at the cost of those who can not fight back: the patients.


  • Author(s) and Director(s)

    Michaela Kirst
    Robert Cibis
  • Producer(s)

    Robert Cibis
    Lilian Franck
  • Camera

    Jakub Bejnarowicz
    Robert Cibis
  • Sound

    Conrad Schmidt
    Nico Mews
    Joanna Piechotta