More than Just Penicillin: Mold in Hospitals Causes Havoc

Officials at AMI Environmental report hospital administrators may need to keep their eyes open for yet another dangerous biological intruder - mold.

They report administrators are watching mold exposure carefully as several large court cases proceed.

Common breeding grounds for mold include: heating and ventilation systems, water leaks and areas with high humidity levels.

"Mold is what asbestos and lead were 20 years ago," says Mike Taylor, director of corporate development for AMI. "That is why it is critical that healthcare officials are aware of the potentially significant liability associated with it. As soon as mold is found, they need to get rid of it as quickly as possible or they risk lawsuits down the road. The basic rule of thumb for detecting mold issues is to watch for signs of moisture, such as water spotting and stains."

Symptoms from exposure to mold may include water eyes, runny noses, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and in severe cases, bleeding of the lungs.

"Typically, water problems should be addressed within the first 24 to 72 hours," says Jim Pagel, senior project manager at AMI. "If wet areas are dried out within a couple of days, problems can usually be prevented. After that, mold may start to grow and subsequently spread through walls or the air - then it becomes a much more difficult situation to manage. Hospitals with water problems that have endured for longer than a couple of days should have an environmental specialist determine if high levels of mold are present, and if so, how far it has spread by taking samples from other floors of the facility and the ventilation system."

AMI Environmental is a team of companies that offer environmental consulting for asbestos, lead, mold, infection control and other facility-based environmental issues.

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