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Van Wey, Metzler & Williams

Wernickes Encephalopathy

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy Attorney

If you or someone you love experienced permanent brain damage or suffered fatal injuries due to a severe B1/thiamine deficiency following bariatric surgery after your medical provider failed to monitor, diagnose, or treat you for Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call us today or submit your case for evaluation and we will review your personal circumstances to see if we are able to represent you in this matter.

What is Wernicke’s Encephalopathy and Korsakoff Syndrome?

Wernicke’s encephalopathy is caused by a vitamin B 1 deficiency (aka thiamine) which is usually caused by excessive alcohol and/or improper nutrition particularly in those with mental health conditions, eating disorders, and the elderly, it is also a known risk following bariatric surgery (particularly gastric bypass), during chemotherapy and cancer treatments, from some kidney and stomach disorders, and from certain whole-body conditions like AIDS or severe infections.

Symptoms can take a long time to show up and are typically as severe as the level of deficiency. Symptoms include:

  • Confusion or brain fog.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Vision and eye movement abnormalities.
  • Drowsiness and/or lack of energy.
  • Fainting.
  • Low blood pressure on standing.
  • Fast heartbeat

Wernicke’s, if not treated, will worsen until it becomes Korsakoff syndrome (aka Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome) which presents as increased confusion, memory loss, and results in permanent brain damage.

Wernicke’s symptoms are reversible with the proper recognition and treatment (high doses of B1) but Korsakoff-level brain damage is not reversible.

For about 20% of people who experience Wernicke’s encephalopathy, it is a potentially fatal condition. Once it reaches full presentation, patients are in a consistent state of confusion, many times lacking emotional or cognitive responses as appropriate, and are often compared to patients suffering from dementia.

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy’s greatest danger is that it is severely under-diagnosed.

Why Does This Happen?

Primarily, the cause of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy progressing into permanent brain damage is a lack of proper risk assessment and monitoring following bariatric procedures. The bariatric surgeon and other doctors involved in post operative and long term care are responsible for monitoring patients to make sure they are receiving the adequate amount of nutrition, which includes thiamine/B1.

Progression of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy symptoms occur when:

  • Failure of doctors to notice or properly treat a patient who is unable to eat, hold down food or liquid, or who is otherwise not taking in enough nutrition, especially due to excessive vomiting.
  • Failure of doctors to recognize or screen for cognitive and speech deficiencies which could indicate a vitamin deficiency.
  • Failure of doctors to recognize or screen for lack of coordination, changes in gait, and clumsiness.
  • Failure of doctors to respond quickly to early signs and symptoms of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy with the proper treatment.

This is particularly disturbing because the treatment for Wernicke’s Encephalopathy is simple, easy to administer, and causes no or very few adverse side effects if its given when not actually needed. If the treatment itself were dangerous, caution in providing it may be understandable. However, the failure to give thiamine/B1, especially when other symptoms are present, is simply negligence.

Do I Have a Wernicke’s Encephalopathy Case?

How We Can Help

Van Wey, Metzler & Williams has over thirty years of experience handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases Our team of dedicated partners, associates, and legal staff will come to your side during this difficult time and help you navigate the legal waters surrounding your injury.

Cases like these can be difficult to prove and you want an attorney with a history of success going against negligent doctors, hospitals, and other providers who have negligently allowed their patients to suffer unnecessary injuries.

We are here to help you seek justice for what’s been done to you. Call us today or submit your case for evaluation below:

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