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  • Writer's pictureAdam Funk

Failure to Diagnose Wernicke's Encephalopathy (WE)

Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE) is a neurological disorder caused by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1). It is most commonly seen in people with chronic alcoholism, but can also occur in people with other conditions that lead to thiamine deficiency, such as malnutrition, bariatric surgery, and pregnancy.

WE is a medical emergency. If it is not diagnosed and treated promptly, it can lead to permanent brain damage. The classic symptoms of WE include:

  • Confusion

  • Ataxia (unsteady gait)

  • Ophthalmoplegia (eye movement problems)

Other symptoms may include:

  • Headache

  • Drowsiness

  • Nystagmus (involuntary eye movements)

  • Dysarthria (slurred speech)

  • Memory problems

The diagnosis of Wernicke's encephalopathy is based on the patient's symptoms and a physical examination. A blood test can be used to measure thiamine levels, but this test is not always accurate. In some cases, a brain scan may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

The treatment for Wernicke's encephalopathy is thiamine supplementation. This can be given orally, intravenously, or intramuscularly. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of a full recovery.

In some cases, people with Wernicke's encephalopathy may go on to develop Korsakoff syndrome. Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by memory problems, disorientation, and confabulation (making up stories to fill in gaps in memory). There is no cure for Korsakoff syndrome, but treatment can help to manage the symptoms.

Failure to Diagnose Wernicke's encephalopathy

When a healthcare provider fails to diagnose Wernicke's encephalopathy, it can have devastating consequences for the patient. In some cases, the patient may die from the condition. In other cases, the patient may suffer permanent brain damage.

There are a number of reasons why a healthcare provider might fail to diagnose WE. The provider may not be familiar with the condition. The provider may not recognize the symptoms of Wernicke's encephalopathy. The provider may not order the appropriate tests to confirm the diagnosis. Or, the provider may simply not take the patient's symptoms seriously.

Lawsuits for Failure to Diagnose WE

In recent years, there have been a number of lawsuits filed against healthcare providers for failing to diagnose Wernicke's encephalopathy. These lawsuits have been successful in some cases. For example, in 2016, a jury awarded $1.5 million to the family of a man who died from Wernicke's encephalopathy after a healthcare provider failed to diagnose and treat the condition.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Wernicke's encephalopathy, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal options. A lawyer can help you to determine if you have a case and can represent you in court if you decide to file a lawsuit.

The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment of Wernicke's encephalopathy is essential to prevent permanent brain damage. If you think you or someone you know may have Wernicke's encephalopathy, it is important to see a doctor right away. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of a full recovery.

Conclusion

Wernicke's encephalopathy is a serious neurological disorder that can have devastating consequences if it is not diagnosed and treated promptly. If you or someone you know has symptoms of Wernicke's encephalopathy, it is important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent permanent brain damage.

The following are some of the legal claims that may be brought in a lawsuit for failure to diagnose WE:

  • Medical malpractice

  • Negligence

  • Breach of contract

  • Intentional tort

The amount of compensation that a plaintiff may be awarded in a lawsuit for failure to diagnose Wernicke's encephalopathy will depend on the specific facts of the case. However, factors that may be considered include the severity of the plaintiff's injuries, the length of time the plaintiff was disabled, and the cost of the plaintiff's medical care.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Wernicke's encephalopathy, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal options. An attorney can help you to determine if you have a case and can represent you in court if you decide to file a lawsuit.

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