In response to the Institute of Medicine report To Err is Human, many organizations have suggested interventions to reduce preventable medical errors. Using a national survey, the authors asked both physicians and the public about causes of, solutions to, and appropriate consequences of preventable medical errors. Although many participants from both groups had personal experience with medical error, neither group viewed medical errors as one of the most important problems in health care today. The majority believed that the number of fatal preventable errors was not as high as reported by the Institute of Medicine. Physicians and the public disagreed on the causes of errors and the interventions that could be employed to reduce errors. The authors conclude that the momentum to institute changes to reduce medical errors comes from the media and interest groups, not the public and physicians, and suggest that people must be persuaded of the value of these efforts.