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The consequences of thiamine deficiency

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2020 | blog, Medical Malpractice

Thiamine deficiency is fairly rare in Texas and around the country as most people get sufficient amounts of the essential vitamin from foods such as nuts, meat and whole grains. Individuals who suffer from medical conditions including diabetes and HIV and people who consume large amounts of alcohol should monitor their thiamine, which is also known as vitamin B1, levels carefully as not getting enough of the nutrient can cause weakness, fatigue and anorexia and cause the debilitating neurological disorder Wernicke encephalopathy.

Dietary intervention

Most of the symptoms of thiamine deficiency, which is also called beriberi, manifest themselves fairly quickly when bodily levels of the nutrient drop. Beriberi can be identified with a simple blood test, and it can be remedied by making adjustments to the diet or taking vitamin B1 supplements. Dietary intervention and supplementation are effective because the body is not able to produce thiamine, which means that it must be provided by food. Despite being fairly easy to recognize, diagnose and treat, thiamine deficiency is missed by physicians with worrying regularity.

Medical malpractice lawsuits

Medical malpractice insurers have noticed a rise in the number of lawsuits filed by patients who developed Wernicke encephalopathy caused by thiamine deficiency after undergoing bariatric surgery. One such case case involved a 35-year-old woman who started to show signs of thiamine deficiency about a month after receiving a gastric bypass. The woman went on to develop WE after her physicians failed to identify the root cause of her problems. The condition left her confined to a wheelchair and unable to take care of her 11-year-old daughter. A jury awarded the woman $14.2 million in damages after determining that her doctor acted negligently.

Identifying negligent parties

The outcome of this case reveals that the damages awarded in medical malpractice cases can be high when doctors fail to diagnose an easily identifiable and treatable medical condition. However, the defendants in thiamine deficiency-related lawsuits are not always physicians. If you suffer harm because of untreated low thiamine levels, an attorney with experience in this area could investigate your case thoroughly to identify the negligent party before taking legal action. Counsel could then file a lawsuit on your behalf against a doctor who failed to treat your condition, a negligent medical facility or a lab that botched a straightforward blood test.

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