Medical errors are receiving increasing attention as research results reveal escalation in their numbers. Three elements of this complex issue are reviewed. A systems approach to reducing the number of errors may be less than effective until the negative connotation associated with the phraseology "medical error" is changed. Healthcare restructuring, which results in the destabilization of teams, is another factor that is related to the increase in medical errors. Stabilization of the healthcare environment and/or stronger support mechanisms during change are essential. Finally, the litigious sensitivity of the public and healthcare systems overall intensifies the "error" element. This element is counter-productive to the openness required for the systems approach.