Failure to Diagnose Nutritional Deficiency Can Lead to Wernicke’s Encephalopathy

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In developed countries like the United States, the general assumption is that malnutrition is a relatively rare health problem.
Still, nutritional deficiency is a persistent medical issue in Texas and throughout the country, and patients may be suffering from undiagnosed malnutrition even as they are being treated in hospitals. Thiamine deficiency, for example, can occur before or after a patient is admitted for medical treatment.
Our bodies need thiamine, otherwise known as Vitamin B1, in order to function properly. The causes of thiamine deficiency range from severe liver disease, not getting enough thiamine in one’s diet, hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, and alcohol dependency.
Patients who have just undergone bariatric or gastrointestinal surgery may also be at a higher risk.
Doctors are trained to recognize and diagnose thiamine deficiency, which can lead to a potentially fatal brain disease called Wernicke’s encephalopathy.
Neurologists say that thiamine deficiency and Wernicke’s encephalopathy are underdiagnosed. If thiamine deficiency is allowed to persist, it can result in severe and permanent disability.
The tragedy in most cases is that the problem could have been addressed if the patient were only given an inexpensive shot of Vitamin B1. If a doctor fails to recognize thiamine deficiency, or if there is a breakdown in communication between doctors and nurses, the victim of Wernicke’s encephalopathy may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
At Davis & Davis, we represent victims of Wernicke’s encephalopathy.
We have seen the devastating effects of this disease, and we fight to get our clients the compensation they need and deserve. To learn more, please see our overview of thiamine deficiency and medical malpractice.