Wernicke's Encephalopathy Follows Three Paths

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Proper balance of hormones, vitamins, and minerals is an important part of being healthy. Whenever the body is deficient in something, there is a chance for negative health outcomes. The greater the deficiency, the greater the risk. In the case of thiamine, one of the outcomes of significant deficiency is a condition called Wernicke Encephalopathy.

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy is characterized by loss of balance and confusion, symptoms shared with many other conditions. Because of this commonality of presentation, it is important for thiamine levels to be tested quickly, and for thiamine supplements to be given at the first indication of the disease, as this is the recommended treatment, and haste is important to prevent long-term damage to the brain.

There are three progressions once Wernicke’s Encephalopathy onsets, including:

  • Full remittance, with no long-term health impacts
  • Remission, but with significant health issues for the rest of the patient’s life
  • Progression into Korsakoff psychosis

Because disease progression is such an important piece of treatment for Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, prompt diagnosis is key. Unfortunately, many emergency room physicians fail to recognize the signs, and will wait too long to order the necessary tests and begin treatment. When this negligence occurs, the likelihood of a negative outcome becomes very high.

Family advocacy is often integral to a proper diagnosis, but this is more difficult in the case of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, which most people are not familiar with. When the doctor comes back with a different diagnosis, there is little reason for the family to suspect medical error until it is too late.

If you or someone you love has suffered unnecessarily due to a delayed diagnosis of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, it is important to understand how treatable the disease is. Medical professionals must be held responsible for failure to identify and provide proper care for these devastating conditions. Please contact an experienced attorney about your case.