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FAQs about Environmental Errors in Hospitals

What is an Environmental Error?

An environmental error is when hospitals and other health care facilities fail to implement practices and standards to ensure patients aren’t damaged by the hospital environment. When medical providers fail to provide treatment that conforms to standard practices and causes damage to a patient because of their negligence, it is called medical malpractice and the patient may be owed compensation. One category of medical malpractice claims is environmental errors.

There can be a lot of confusion about environmental, or hospital, errors. We’ve decided to answer some frequently asked questions to clear things up.

What Are Some Examples of Environmental Error?

One dramatic example is quarantine. If there is a patient in the hospital that is suffering from a highly infectious disease such as Ebola, the medical facility has a duty to cordon off that patient from the rest of the hospital. A pregnant woman going to give birth should not have to worry about getting Ebola from another patient during her time in the hospital.

Another example could be the hospital not having backup generators if the power goes out. If the lack of power caused harm to a patient, they may have a legal case.

Is Wrongdoing in a Hospital Considered an Environmental Error?

No. There has to be harm done to a patient as a result. If a hospital employee doesn’t disinfect something correctly, it might not cause harm, but it does it could be considered an environmental error.

What if the Error is Done by an Employee That Doesn’t Provide Care?

The hospital does have the duty to implement standard procedures, so there may be a legal case. However, a janitor’s mistake that causes harm would not be considered medical negligence since they would not be providing medical care.


Concerned about a medical error? Call Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C. at (816) 484-3776 for a free consultation.

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