The knowledge of resident doctors on diagnostics, etiology and treatment of Wernicke encephalopathy
background Wernicke encephalopathy (we) is a severe, acute neuropsychiatric disorder caused by a deficiency in thiamine. There have been indications that we is undertreated, which can lead to the Korsakoff syndrome, delirium or death. Treatment according to protocol is simple and effective. The knowledge of physicians about we has not been researched before.
aim To test the knowledge of resident doctors on diagnosis, etiology and treatment of we.
method The knowledge of 70 resident doctors in different medical specialties was examined through two clinical cases: the first with we due to hyperemesis gravidarum and the second due to alcohol abuse. Both open and multiple-choice questions were asked. Cues of the classical triad of we (cognitive disorder, eye movement disorder and gait disorder) were given accumulatively.
results The classical triad of we was not recognized by 73% of the resident doctors in the case of hyperemesis gravidarum and they missed we in the case of alcohol abuse. Many of the resident doctors were not able to name the thiamin deficiency, the triad of we, more than three causes of we or the correct treatment with thiamine sufficiently. 67% of resident doctors indicated that their knowledge of we was insufficient and 76% expressed a need for more information about we.
conclusion The knowledge of resident doctors about the diagnostics, etiology and management of we is insufficient. Moreover, the resident doctors evaluate their knowledge about we to be insufficient. Medical school and postgraduate specialization have to focus more on this common and severe syndrome, which can appear in different medical areas.