Herpes Simplex Encephalitis (HSE)

When patients and their families think of medical malpractice, many think wrongful death or harm caused by a botched procedure. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, malpractice is a failure or delay to diagnose, and or treat, that leads to further harm.

When a doctor is reviewing your signs and symptoms, they develop a differential diagnosis. This differential diagnosis is simply a list of possibilities, and the doctor must then rule them out one by one. Some diagnoses are more uncommon than others, but the physician still has a duty to address and rule them out. This is especially true if the uncommon diagnosis is especially devastating, but very treatable. If these diagnoses are not ruled out or treated, the delay can lead to serious consequences for the patient.

Some malpractice cases come from a delay in diagnosis, or treatment, of an especially devastating (but treatable) disease, Herpes Simplex Encephalitis (HSE). This virus, responsible for cold sores, can travel to the brain and cause initial symptoms like headaches, fatigue, fever, confusion, olfactory hallucinations (smells that are not there) and memory impairment. When gone unchecked it can lead to permanent brain damage that affects short and long-term memory loss, language formation, auditory perception that is obviously disabling.

This is the most TREATABLE viral encephalitis, but also has one of the most devastating outcomes if treatment is delayed. The treatment is a proven safe antiviral medication called Acyclovir. This drug is safe, boasts minimal side effects, and works very well against the Herpes virus. The medical literature is replete with studies that clearly show intervention of Acyclovir effectively controls HSE and significantly reduces long term impairment. The sooner the therapy is initiated, the better the outcome. When a doctor suspects viral encephalitis he has a duty to treat as if it were Herpes Simplex until the virus can be properly identified. This is because literally hours count. Destroyed brain tissue cannot regenerate.

Unfortunately, HSE is not always diagnosed quickly and treated effectively. Sometimes, patients who come into the emergency room with symptoms stemming from HSE are misdiagnosed. When the infection is not properly diagnosed, treatment via Acyclovir is not administered and the patient begins an inappropriate treatment protocol. In these cases, the HSE continues to rage and destroy major parts of the brain, usually in the temporal lobes. Temporal lobes are responsible for new memory formation, auditory perception, language and house the olfactory cortex.

If you were diagnosed with HSE and now have permanent brain damage give us a call. The team at Grewer Law advocates for you in the courtroom, helping to get just compensation and to remind medical professionals that patients are individuals and not numbers.

Grewer Law

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