Osmotic Demyelination Syndrome

Osmotic demyelination syndrome (ODS), also called central pontine myelinolysis, does not necessarily result from a traumatic incident. Instead, it is a medical condition that can happen as a complication of an injury. ODS can also result from medical malpractice during treatment for low sodium levels.

Since ODS can have a complicated causal chain, you may need help recovering compensation for it. An Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer from Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers can investigate your case and outline your legal options for pursuing compensation for the effects of your condition.

Contact our law office by calling (770) 390-7550 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney in Atlanta, GA.

How Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers Can Help If You’ve Developed Osmotic Demyelination Syndrome in Atlanta, GA

How Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers Can Help If You’ve Developed Osmotic Demyelination Syndrome in Atlanta, GA

Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers is a personal injury law firm that has served injured clients in Atlanta, Georgia, since 1965. Our family-run law firm has a reputation for excellence that shows in the results the firm has achieved. The firm’s Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys have secured hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for clients injured by medical errors and other acts of negligence.

If you develop ODS due to malpractice or negligence, our attorneys can provide:

  • A free consultation to discuss your condition and the options you have for compensation
  • Intense attention to detail in pursuing a fair settlement of your claim
  • Aggressive representation to litigate your case if it does not settle

ODS and other medical conditions may require expensive treatment and prevent you from working or caring for yourself. Contact Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers to discuss your injuries and conditions and your options for compensation.

Is ODS a Common Condition?

ODS is a rare neurological condition that most people will never experience. ODS accounts for only about 0.06% of hospital admissions. However, in some vulnerable populations, such as liver transplant recipients, as many as 29% might experience ODS. 

Some health issues that might increase your risk of ODS include:

  • Chronic alcohol use
  • Liver disease
  • Liver transplant
  • Burn injuries
  • Radiation treatment
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe vomiting

ODS is considered to be a secondary condition because it never develops on its own. Instead, it arises from a primary condition or the treatment of that condition.

Causes and Effects of Osmotic Demyelination Syndrome

Your nerves carry nerve signals using a combination of chemical and electrical signals. Like an electrical wire, your nerves have an insulator coating them.

The myelin sheath coats nerve cells so signals can travel quickly from one end of the cell to the other. It also prevents the signal from weakening as it travels along the nerve. When the myelin sheath gets damaged, signals travel more slowly or get dropped.

Diseases and injuries can damage the myelin sheath. Autoimmune disorders, strokes, and poisons can weaken or destroy the fats that form myelin. The myelin can also degrade due to chemical imbalances.

Causes of ODS

ODS happens when you have too much sodium in your blood. A sodium imbalance causes osmosis, a process in which water moves from areas of low sodium concentration to areas with high sodium concentration. In the case of ODS, water moves out of the fat cells that form the myelin into the blood.

Without water, the fat cells in the myelin shrink. They eventually die if doctors do not correct the imbalance.

The high sodium concentration that can lead to ODS can happen in two ways. First, doctors may try to correct low sodium levels, called hyponatremia, but may err in their treatment. A sudden infusion of sodium into the blood to treat hyponatremia can trigger the osmosis that leads to ODS.

Second, you may become dehydrated due to burn injuries or severe vomiting. Water loss causes the concentration of sodium in your blood to increase, leading to ODS.

Effects of ODS

ODS can affect any nerve or brain cells, but the cells of your brain stem are particularly vulnerable to ODS. The brain stem has two broad functions. First, it integrates signals from disparate areas of the brain before they travel down the spinal cord. Second, it handles involuntary functions like swallowing and breathing.

When ODS affects the brain stem, you may experience:

  • Facial paralysis
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Limb weakness
  • Tremors
  • Impaired awareness and thinking

In many cases, doctors diagnose the problem and correct your blood chemistry levels to prevent permanent nerve damage. But, physician errors in diagnosing and treating your ODS may permanently damage the brain stem.

Potential Liability For ODS

You often have two options for pursuing compensation for ODS. If you developed ODS secondary to a traumatic injury, the at-fault party for your primary injuries may bear liability for your ODS. Thus, if you suffered severe burns in a hotel fire caused by a defective sprinkler system, you may have a premises liability claim against the hotel for your burns and ODS.

Even if your ODS resulted from disease, you may still have a medical malpractice case against your doctor. ODS is a known complication for many diseases like multiple sclerosis and liver disease. If the doctor negligently failed to monitor and treat you for ODS, you may have a malpractice claim.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Brain Injury Lawyers in Atlanta To Discuss Your ODS

ODS can prevent you from performing the most basic functions, like swallowing and sitting upright. Contact our attorneys at Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers by calling at (770) 390-7550 to discuss the causes and effects of ODS and the compensation you can seek for your condition.