Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. is pleased to announce that our firm was recently
successful in securing a $14 million verdict on behalf of a Del Rio, Texas
woman who was catastrophically and permanently injured when she developed
Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a serious neurological disorder, due
to an attending physician’s failures to administer thiamine (vitamin
b1) following bariatric surgery. The case was handled by firm Attorneys
Tom Rhodes, Robert Brzezinski, Erin Oglesby, and Sam Royston, together
with Attorney Kathryn Snapka.
The lawsuit, filed in the 131st Judicial District of Bexar County, was brought on behalf of a Del Rio
woman who underwent a successful gastric bypass surgery in November of
2011. She was 35 years old at the time. Roughly one month after the procedure,
she began vomiting and sought treatment with her surgeon, who discovered
a stricture – or narrowing of bodily passages – and successfully
performed a dilation. Despite the procedure, our client continued to experience
vomiting, and was unable to keep down any nutrients, food, or liquid.
Shortly thereafter, our client was admitted to Metropolitan Methodist Hospital
in San Antonio, TX, where she was diagnosed with a variety of 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 period of nine days.
Two days after her initial admission, our client was evaluated by a dietician,
who acknowledged her as high risk for malnutrition and recommended that
she receive TPN (total parenteral nutrition), a method of feeding that
bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Had the TPN been ordered and administered
to our client, it would have included thiamine (vitamin B1). As her twelve
day stay at the hospital went on, she began developing several concerning
symptoms, many of which suggested neurological causes, including tingling,
stooling, fixed gaze, hearing impairment, dizziness, weakness, difficulty
walking, altered gait, and nystagmus.
Despite this, during her entire twelve day stay, her attending physician
failed to order any vitamins or nutrients, including the TPN initially
recommended by the dietician. The attending physician discharged our client
from the hospital even though, on the date of discharge, she suffered
from vision issues and nystagmus, dizziness, headaches, continued vomiting,
altered gait, and weakness.
Within one week of her discharge, our client was back in the hospital suffering
the same symptoms and now dealing with delirium and became obtunded. During
the second hospital stay, she continued to decline and eventually became
comatose for a period of time.
Our client, now 41, currently lives in the Del Rio Nursing home. She has
no short term memory, cannot walk or stand, and is only mobile by wheelchair.
She is unable to form new memories of her daughter, now age 11. She was
catastrophically and permanently injured, we alleged in the lawsuit, as
a result of medical staff’s failures to administer thiamine.
At trial, we presented expert testimony that our client suffers from a
condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a serious neurological
disorder characterized by confusion, inability to coordinate voluntary
movement and eye abnormalities, as well as memory loss and other mental
deficits. This condition is caused by a lack of thiamine.
We also demonstrated the standard of care in this case required that immediately
upon admission, a post-bariatric patient who is persistently vomiting
should receive thiamine in order to prevent this permanent and tragic
condition. Because our client did not receive thiamine or TPN / nutrients
– in fact, she received a total liquid intake of less than 6 ounces
during her entire three week stay – she developed Wernicke’s
encephalopathy. The jury sided with our client and held that the attending
physician and his employer were negligent and liable for malpractice.
Our client was awarded $14,285,505 in damages.
Although a tragedy for all involved, our firm is proud to have secured
justice on behalf of our client and her loved ones, as well as the compensation
they will need to cover future medical expenses and lost wages. The experience
of our legal team, connections with medical experts, trial abilities,
and unwavering commitment to justice proved invaluable in obtaining a
successful verdict in this
medical malpractice case.