Are you at risk of Wernicke’s encephalopathy?

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Legally reviewed by:
Steven R. Davis and John A. Davis, Jr.
June 25, 2024

Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a condition that can result from life-threatening thiamine deficiency. You could have a medical malpractice claim in Texas if your doctor failed to promptly diagnose you with vitamin B1 deficiency, also known as thiamine deficiency. When this medical issue goes untreated, it may turn into Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Most people don’t have symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency until it turns into Wernicke’s encephalopathy.

What increases your risk of thiamine deficiency and Wernicke’s encephalopathy?

If you have had gastrointestinal surgery or bariatric surgery, you are at a higher risk of Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Chronic alcoholism is also a significant risk factor for this condition. You could ask your doctor if your vitamin B1 levels are sufficient to protect yourself against this health condition. Pregnant women who have prolonged or severe nausea or vomiting, such as in hyperemesis gravidarum, are also at higher risk of Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Likewise, anyone who is experiencing prolonged or severe nausea or vomiting after surgery should check their vitamin B1 levels. Nutritional deficiencies can also lead to thiamine deficiency, increasing the risk of Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Other risk factors include malnutrition, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, and severe anorexia nervosa.

Early symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy

You may have neurological symptoms such as short-term memory problems, mental sluggishness, loss of balance while walking, or visual disturbances when you have Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Thiamine treatment can address these symptoms. It’s possible to fall into a coma as well. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used in diagnosing Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Symptoms that you might mistakenly shrug off are confusion, apathy, and the inability to concentrate. Korsakoff psychosis is a potential long-term outcome. Some doctors only consider thiamine deficiency if the patient has balance problems, eye muscle dysfunction, and confusion. However, you should insist on a vitamin B1 test or go to a different doctor if you have other symptoms you’re feeling worried about. Peripheral neuropathy is also a symptom of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. You might be able to seek compensation for medical malpractice if your doctor was negligent in considering the possibility you have a vitamin B1 deficiency. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a serious issue that could cause permanent brain damage, among other health problems. Thiamine deficiency impacts brain regions with higher metabolic demands. Stay more alert about what’s going on with your body and mental state when you go through a situation that puts you at higher risk of a vitamin B1 deficiency. Doctors are sometimes negligent, so it’s good to learn about health conditions to watch out for.

John A. Davis, Jr.


John A. Davis, Jr. and Steven R. Davis

June 25 2024

Steven R. Davis and John A. Davis, Jr. are experienced attorneys at Davis & Davis, a law firm that specializes in medical malpractice cases in Texas. With a deep commitment to justice that guides their ethical approach, Davis and Davis have dedicated their careers to helping victims of medical negligence. They and their team continue to advocate for clients, despite the challenges posed by Texas's cap on recoverable damages in malpractice lawsuits. Davis & Davis pride themselves on their extensive experience in the field and their readiness to meet clients across the United States.

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