The Operation Business


In Germany medical treatment often depends on where the patient lives and how profit-oriented the hospital is. That’s the result of extensive research conducted for WDR. For the first time, a team of journalists has worked together with the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and analysed data from the German Federal Statistical Office on 130 million hospital stays.

The film is a journey into the shadowy realm of the health industry, which has an annual turnover of more than 300 billion euros. Why are significantly more caesarean sections performed in the west of Germany than in the east? Why are a surprisingly large number of knee joint replacements carried out in Bavaria in particular? Why are there nearly three time the number of back operations in eastern Hesse as the national average? The film takes us to regions where patients go under the scalpel noticeably more often than elsewhere, without suspecting that their operations might be unnecessary or even harmful. It dissects the methods by which some hospitals come by patients and profitable operations on a huge scale and it provides shocking insights into a health system that operates without controls.

Written and directed by: Meike Hemschemeier // Research and data team: Meik Bittkowski, Meike Hemschemeier, Wolfgang Müller, Volker Stollorz, Thomas Weidenbach, Andrea Wille // Camera: Michael Kern // Sound: Steven Altig // Film editor: Jan Wilm Schmülling // Graphics: Andreas Hougardy // Music: Stefan Döring // Sound mix: Alexander Weuffen // Commentary: Simon Roden // Production assistant: Laura Bleifuß // Production manager: Katja Sträter // Producer: Thomas Weidenbach // Commissioning editor: Ulrike Schweitzer 

– Journalistenpreis „Evidenzbasierte Medizin in den Medien“ 2018

  • YEAR 2017
  • LENGTH 45 min