Forget to brush your teeth before you go to bed, mix up the salt with the pepper, accidentally leave a red sock in the white load of laundry or fail to take your vitamins, and it probably isn’t going to be a life-altering mistake. Errors as small as these ones, when made in a medical setting can cause permanent patient damage or even a wrongful death.What if a surgeon fails to wash his or her hands or sanitize a piece of medical equipment before conducting another surgery on a different patient? This could cause a patient undergoing cataract surgery to suffer the loss of vision. What about failing to read every word on a medicine bottle? It could mean that a 14-month-old baby is injected with medication that should have been taken orally.Those cases mentioned above aren’t hypothetical at all. While we may have taken some liberty in assuming that a label was misread when it might have been a charting error or something else, the drug error and patient were real and the case was reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. In fact, there are approximately 8,000 cases of medical mistakes such as this one reported to the agency each year.The agency is in a unique position to see the state-wide picture, to understand trends and commonalities in a broader number of cases. The agency was established in 2002 by Act 13, and staff members search through up to 240,000 incident reports each year to find these common occurrences. Then, the agency helps suggest and establish practices that will hopefully help decrease the chance that patients will suffer harm as a result of a medical error.A medical malpractice lawsuit often takes the opposite view. Instead of the bigger picture, it focuses on an individual situation and compensates the victim for the very specific and very real damage that the victim suffered. Those that have questions about their personal situation should discuss their legal options with a Harrisburg medical malpractice lawyer.Source: TribLIVE, “Safety agency watches for trends to protect Pa. patients,” Akasha Chamberlain, Feb. 22, 2014