Lawyers For Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome Due To Misdiagnosis

Do you or a family member suffer from Wernicke’s Syndrome (WKS)? This disease can cause death and/or permanent brain damage when doctors and medical personnel misdiagnose patients with Wernicke’s Korsakoff Syndrome. When a patient with Wernicke Korsakoff disease dies or suffers permanent brain damage, it is a direct result of a doctor’s failure to timely diagnose a Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) deficiency. You may qualify to file a claim seeking compensation for negligence, permanent brain damage, or wrongful death. We can help you, and consultations are free and confidential.

Call the law office of Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. at (713) 932-0777 for a free consultation with an attorney about filing a Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome lawsuit. If doctors misdiagnosed or missed the signs of Wernicke’s Disease in the early stages before permenent brain damage occurred and the condition was reversible, they may be held liable for damages in a medical negligence lawsuit.

What is Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome?

Wernickie’s Disease and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome are conditions that are a direct result of a Vitamin B1 deficiency in the body.Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome is also known as Wernicke’s Disease, Korsakoff’s Psychosis, Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, or  Wernicke-Korsokoff Syndrome.  The human body does not produce Vitamin B1. It must be consumed via diet or supplement.

The human body can hold in reserve enough B1 to last approximately 2-3 weeks. Once it is gone, if not replenished, permanent and severe damage or even death may occur.  So, knowing that it is so important, how is it that it that medical doctors can misdiagnose and/or even fail to treat early warning signs of these conditions?

How Can Medical Negligence Cause Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

Doctors have a duty of care to patients. There are certain scenarios in which Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome is likely to occur, especially when the patient also has a B1 deficiency. When doctors misdiagnose patients that have Wernicke’s disease or fail to test patients undergoing bariatric surgery or that have extended incidents of vomiting in their medical records, they may be found negligent. Doctors should know to look out for symptoms and combinations of risk factors for Wernicke Korsakoff including:

  • Vomiting or Bulimia
  • Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
  • Long Hospitalization on IV
  • Alcoholism
  • Malnutrition After Surgery

Origin 1: Prolonged Periods of Vomiting and Nausea

Whether it be a pregnant woman with severe morning sickness, a bulimic person or an otherwise ill patient, anyone experiencing a prolonged period of nausea and/or vomiting is at risk for not receiving sufficient B1 in their diet to replace what is being burned and expelled. Thus, anyone with a history of nausea and vomiting should raise a red flag for being at risk.

OrigIn 2: Bariatric (Weight Loss) Surgery

Bariatric Surgery is also known as Gastric Bypass Surgery and Laporoscopic Surgery. It is a procedure in which the stomach is surgically divided into two separate compartments and one the larger one is essentially disconnected to reduce the amount of food intake. That part of the stomach and some of the intestines, particularly the duodenum, are bypassed so that less food absorption occurs in the digestive process. This poses a thiamine deficiency risk in two ways:

  • the duodenum absorbs the most thiamine, and;
  • the diet for a bariatric surgery patient is restricted.

With thiamine intake being reduced in two ways, the risk of Wernicke’s Disease rises substantially. Some medical providers suggest a prolonged monitoring and regulation of the B1 levels following all weight loss surgery for this reason.

Origin 3: Extended Hospitalization

When someone I hospitalized for an extended period of time such that they receive their nourishment primarily or exclusively through an IV, they may receive as little as 1/6th of their normal recommended daily vitamin intake. Lack of appropriate vitamin supplementation can lead to a deficiency in Vitamin B1.  When you are in a hospital for an extended period of time and subject to feeding via IV, it is absolutely critical that your doctor monitor your food intake and blood vitamin levels to ensure you are receiving essential nutrients. Failure to do this can result in permanent and severe consequences.

Origin 4: Post Surgery Malnutrition

Any surgery can result in risk of B1 deficiency if proper vitamins are not administered when required. Any patient that appears to have undernourishment, dehydration and post-surgical nausea and vomiting should be evaluated and treated for a vitamin B1 deficiency.

Origin 5: Alcoholism and Liver Disorders

Alcoholism and liver disorders can result in a vitamin B1 deficiency. Excessive use of alcohol can disrupt the natural intake of thiamine in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. Anyone with a history of alcohol that presents to the hospital with symptoms of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy and/or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome should be evaluated and treated for B1 deficiency without delay.

Misdiagnosed Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

When it comes to Korsakoff disease, early diagnosis is a MUST! A Wernicke-Korsakoff misdiagnosis can be fatal. Anytime a patient arrives at an emergency room with more than one symptom of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, the patient should be immediately evaluated and treated for vitamin B1 deficiency because it is a medical emergency.
Furthermore, a doctor may be negligent for failure to diagnose and treat a patient when he arrives at the hospital with any of the above origins in his history and a single symptom of  Wernicke’s Encephalopathy.

According to an article published by the National Institute of Health, “It is estimated that merely 20% of cases are diagnosed properly, whereas the majority are misdiagnosed.”

If you or a loved one were delayed in getting vitamin B1 treatment due to a doctor’s failure to timely diagnose and provide treatment, call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation today a 1-800-298-0111.

What is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

Is a condition in which the patient experiences neurological symptoms caused by lesions of the central nervous system. It is the combined occurrence of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy and Korsakoff Syndrome.

What is Wernicke’s Encephalopathy a/k/a Wernicke’s Disease?

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy is a disorder of the brain caused by biochemical lesions occurring in one or more parts of the brain. It is typically characterized by three symptoms: ophthalmoplegia (visual disturbance), ataxia (unsteady gait) and confusion. It has one cause—vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency. If left untreated it can lead to permanent damage, coma and even death.

What is Korsakoff Syndrome?

Severe impairment of a patient’s memory without any defect in their intellectual capacity. Symptoms commonly include memory impairment, confusion, confabulation, and changes in personality. Peripheral Neuropathy has also been reported as prevalent.

What is the Cause of  Wernicke’s Disease and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

There is only one cause of this condition—vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency. The human body cannot produce B1. However, we require B1 for many essential functions and processes such as glucose breakdown, the breakdown of carbohydrates to produce energy, gluteric acid production, metabolize lipids, produce myelin and taurine production.

Can Wernicke’s Encephalopathy and Wernickie’s-Korsokoff Syndrome Be Prevented?

Yes. If the vitamin deficiency is caught early, the condition can be easily treated by supplementing B1 by both injection and change of diet/nourishment intake.

How is Thiamine (B1) Deficiency Diagnosed?

Clinical diagnosis of thiamine deficiency is made by a finding of two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of balance with mobility/unsteady gait
  • Coma
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Visual disturbances
  • Apathy
  • Confusion

Identification of two or more of the above should prompt a doctor to run a simple blood test to determine if thiamine levels are low.  If a blood test is not available for any reason, B1 has a very low risk of serious side effects when use as prescribed and can be crucial in preventing irreparable brain damage.

Can Wernicke-Korsokoff Syndrome and Wernicke’s Encephalopathy Be Treated?

If the thiamine deficiency it caught soon enough, a B1 injection can reverse all early onset symptoms. However, if it goes untreated too long the symptoms can become permanent. Balancing the patient’s vitamin B1 can prevent further damage or death, but the patient will likely require a long-term life care plan.

What is Thiamine?

Thiamine is also known as Vitamin B1 and Thiamin. It is found in many foods, can be acquired in pill form as a dietary supplement and can be given by a physician in the form of a B1 injection. The human body requires thiamine for many essential functions and processes such as glucose breakdown, the breakdown of carbohydrates to produce energy, gluteric acid production, metabolize lipids, produce myelin and taurine production.

Medical Malpractice Law

Medical malpractice is a very complex area of law that has become highly specialized due to tort reform. Many attorneys have quit practicing medical malpractice entirely. There are still some medical malpractice attorneys who specialize int he field and often keep on staff and/or retainer medical professionals to evaluate cases.  At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. we strive to provide you with the best possible service to maximize your recovery.  Due to the nature of some cases, some cases are likely to be referred to another law firm for handling with the client’s permission.

Free Consultation

Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. to a free consultation regarding your case. All cases are taken on a contingency fee basis only, meaning that you pay nothing up front and you pay no fees nor legal expenses unless we win your case.  Call us at 1-800-298-0111 today!