In late October, two Texas firms secured $14 million for a client who developed a severe neurological disorder due to an attending physician’s failures to administer vitamin b1 following a bariatric surgery.
The lawsuit was filed in the 131st Judicial District of Bexar County on behalf of a Del Rio woman who underwent a successful gastric bypass surgery in November 2011. She was 35 years old at the time. One month later, she began vomiting and sought treatment with her surgeon, who discovered a narrowing of bodily passages and successfully performed a dilation. Despite the procedure, the patient frequently vomited and could not keep food or drink down.
She was soon admitted to Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio where she was diagnosed with various symptoms, including dehydration, persistent vomiting, and severe malnutrition. She was also placed on NPO status, a medical instruction to withhold food and fluids through the mouth. At the time of her admission, she had been unable to retain any kind of vitamin or nutrient for a nine-day period. She was diagnosed with being malnourished but was never given a recommended TPN (total parenteral nutrition), a method of feeding that bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Thiamine, or vitamin B1, would have been included if the TPM had been ordered.
She was discharged without proper care and during a consequent hospital stay, she continued to decline and eventually became comatose for a period of time. Now 41, the plaintiff lives in a Del Rio Nursing home. She has no short-term memory, cannot walk or stand, and is only mobile by wheelchair; her catastrophic and permanent injury, as alleged in the lawsuit, was a result of medical staff’s failures to administer thiamine.
At trial lawyers for the plaintiff proved, with the help of expert testimony, that she suffers from a condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy. This condition is caused by a lack of thiamine and causes confusion, inability to coordinate voluntary movement and eye abnormalities, as well as memory loss and other mental deficits. The doctor and employer were found negligent and liable.