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Tom Rhodes Law Firm Secures $14 Million Verdict in Bexar County Medical Malpractice Case

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.