Thiamine, known as Vitamin B-1, is stored in small amounts in the body and as such, healthy levels can be depleted quickly. When the body becomes severely depleted of this essential vitamin serious health consequences can arise in the brain, heart and muscle function. The seriousness of the complications makes quickly identifying and treating potential thiamine deficiency vital.
A deficiency in vitamin B-1 is usually linked to some form of malnutrition where the body is not provided, or not able to, absorb necessary amounts for proper health. Situations like this can occur when a person is unable to eat or has prolonged bouts of vomiting which prevents the absorption of food and nutrients.
If in a hospital or medical settings, doctors and nurses should be aware of this danger and begin administering thiamine as a precaution. Thiamine can be administered orally as a supplement, into the muscle as an injection, or in the most severe cases, intravenously in an IV drip. Since low levels of thiamine are easy to diagnosis using a blood test, and the treatment options are very simple, there’s no reason for anyone to ever suffer permanent brain or neurological disorders due to a deficiency. Furthermore, you cannot overdose on Thiamine so if there’s even a suspicion of deficiency the patient should be given treatment immediately.
If left untreated, thiamine deficiency can result in development of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, the symptoms of which include muscle paralysis, issues with vision, problems walking, fatigue, foggy headedness, and a host of other neurological related issues. One group most at risk of developing a deficiency are those who have recently undergone bariatric surgery such as a gastric bypass; these patients should be closely monitored for any signs or symptoms of Wernicke’s. The neurological damage caused by Wernicke’s is due to lesions forming on the brain which can be spotted with an MRI. The first signs of Wernicke’s appear as the patient becoming confused or having an altered mental status. The classic three symptoms of Wernicke’s, known as the Wernicke’s Triangle, are unusual gait, problems with vision and mental fog.
If the disease is caught early enough, most symptoms of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy can be reversed using a supplementation of Thiamine. However, if the disease goes untreated for too long many of the symptoms, such as memory loss, may become permanent. If not treated at all, the disease will eventually result in coma and then death.
As a society we place our trust in the hands of doctors, hospitals and nurses, that they will hold our care to the highest standards. While not all medical mistakes are considered “negligence”, developing Wernicke’s while under a doctor’s care is absolutely negligent malpractice. If a patient starts exhibiting any combination of these symptoms, medical professionals should be aware to start treatment for possible thiamine deficiency immediately.
It’s tragic that by not administering such a simple and cheap treatment, a patient and their loved ones could live the rest of their lives dealing with the complications of a neurological disorder or worse – death of a loved one. If a medical professional fails to diagnose a thiamine deficiency in its early stages, and allows it to develop into Wernicke’s, they can be held liable for medical malpractice due to negligence. Patients and families of those injury by such negligence deserve fair compensation so that they may continue their life as comfortably as possible. Our attorneys are experienced with Wernicke’s cases and we’re here to help you and your family today. Call the Hastings Law Firm at 281-466-1396 for a free consultation with an attorney about filing a Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome lawsuit.