On 12-18-97 we checked our dog into the All-Care Animal Referral Center under
the impression that Craig Bergstrom was a certified neurologist. Our dog died.
Judgment for the Plaintiff.
Background information regarding this case:
This complaint letter is in regards to my male Akita (named Oso) who died on
December 19, 1997 from what we believe was a lack of proper medical treatment at
the All-Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley, California. The Akita
was born on 02/10/94, and was not quite four years old.
On 12/17/97, at approximately 1:45 p.m. I left for work in Fountain Valley
from my home in Tustin. Just prior to leaving my house, I had been in the back
yard playing with my two dogs and noticed that the Akita was not overly eager to
eat a treat as he normally had been. In fact, when I gave Oso the treat, he
dropped it on the ground and did not bend his head down to pick it up. I
remember picking up the treat, giving it to him again, and then leaving for
work. I returned home around 1:30 a.m. on 12/18/97. I went into my backyard to
see my dogs and noticed that the Oso moved slightly slower than normal, appeared
to have some labored breathing, and walked somewhat light on his rear feet. I
immediately awoke my husband and it took both of us to lift the Oso into the
back seat of my vehicle. Normally, Oso was physically strong enough to hop both
in the car and the back of our other car (Chevy Tahoe). Being that I worked in
Fountain Valley and had dealt with All-Care Animal Referral Center in the past (Oso
had surgery for hip dysplasia in both rear legs on 03/25/95 from the facility) I
felt comfortable bringing him back to see a specialist to examine my dog.
I arrived at All-Care around 1:45 or 2:00 a.m. and explained to the attendant
at the front counter what I had observed. I was brought to a waiting room and
Dr. Frank Borostyankoi examined the dog. Dr. Borostyankoi had Oso walk back and
forth in a hallway, manipulated his rear and front legs, as well as checked the
area above the back. In his opinion, Dr. Borostyankoi said it appeared the dog
had sprained his back, as Oso appeared to be favoring one of his rear legs as he
walked, and was a little slow when making turning movements. At that time, I did
not remember any injuries that oso had sustained at home. Dr. Borostyankoi told
me that around 6:00 a.m. Dr. Bergstrom would be on-duty and he would like to
have Dr. Bergstrom examine Oso. I was told by Dr. Borostyankoi that Dr.
Bergstrom was a very good Neurologist who would be able to examine Oso and do
blood tests also. I gave my permission for this to be done. I then left
I returned home and around 9:00 a.m. I received a phone call from Dr.
Bergstrom. Dr. Bergstrom told me that he had completed the x-rays on Oso and
everything appeared to be okay. Lab work was not completed to show results of
any blood tests. He further told me he had "manipulated" Oso's neck
and head causing the dog to cry out. Based upon this, Dr. Bergstrom told me he
felt there may be an injury to the dog's neck area. He wanted to keep Oso for
further observation, adding he wanted to do a myelogram the following morning. I
questioned him as to the delay in doing tests, and he said that the dog was
stable and it was not good to put Oso to sleep twice in 24 hours. At that time,
I was advised the only medicine being given to Oso was anti-inflammatory
medicine to bring down any swelling. I then hung up with Dr. Bergstrom and
phoned my husband to relay the conversation I had with Dr. Bergstrom. We both
agreed to have the myelogram done for Oso.
I began thinking about how Oso could have injured his neck or back and
remembered an incident the previous day on 12/16/97. On that day around 2:00
p.m. I had finished giving Oso a bath inside the house and was walking him out
to the living room so he could go outside to dry off. I had opened the sliding
glass door for Oso to walk out. Instead of walking through the opening, Oso (who
had just prior been sitting on the carpet) stepped forward and banged his head
on the glass door (which did not break). At the time, Oso appeared a little
startled and then went outside. Upon remembering this, I immediately phoned Dr.
Bergstrom (I believe around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m.) and told him the incident. Dr.
Bergstrom said that would then explain why Oso cried out when his neck was
manipulated and turned side to side. Further conversation ensued with me being
told that Oso could have a blown disk, compressed disk, pinched nerve, or other
strain in his neck/head area.
I phoned my sister who has worked with many reputable veterinarians through
animal rescue groups and explained to her what had happened. She told me to get
Oso out of All-Care, as in her opinion they would be extremely slow in their
treatment. When I had given her the names of the doctors treating Oso, I was
told to get Oso out immediately as Dr. Bergstrom was not a Board Certified nor
Board qualified Neurologist, and that if left there, she believed Oso would die
of the slow pace of treatment they would provide. This was based upon her own
experience with Dr. Bergstrom involving a dog who was bit by a tick and showing
signs of paralysis. The dog was removed from All-Care with paralysis to be
successfully treated by another veterinarian.
I drove to All-Care and went in to visit Oso around 9:00 p.m. on 12/18/97.
Oso was laying down in a kennel and it was very obvious to me that his condition
was now grave. Oso looked at me and tried to stand up by standing on his front
legs. He collapsed on the floor and began screaming/howling in pain. Oso was
extremely lethargic. He could not hold his head up nor was he eating. Dr.
Borostyankoi came over to the kennel where I was with Oso and told me that Oso
was in a lot of pain. He further told me Oso was on some anti-inflammatory
medicine to reduce any swelling in his neck, but was not on any pain medicine as
they did not want Oso's muscles to relax and cause his spine or vertebrae in his
neck to move around. Still, as of this time, Oso was not on any antibiotics.
I phoned my husband at home and asked him to meet me at All-Care, as I wanted
to take him out to another facility recommended by my sister. This facility,
named Southern California Surgical Group (in Irvine), would have a Board
Certified Neurologist on staff to receive Oso. My husband had spoken on the
phone with Dr. Hanson of So. Cal. Surgical Group and it was decided that if Oso
was in too much pain, it would be best to leave him until the morning as there
would be no one at the facility during the night. Dr. Hanson also suggested that
we allow the myelogram to be done. My husband arrived around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m.
and we both met with Dr. Borostyankoi who told us that Oso was doing okay, but
that he was in a lot of pain from a compressed or dislocated disk in his neck.
Again I asked why Oso was not being given medicine to alleviate the pain and was
told that pain killers would allow Oso to move which would cause more injury. He
continued to tell us that Dr. Bergstrom was a very good neurologist and that the
myelogram in the morning would reveal more information about Oso's condition.
On the morning of 12/19/97 I received a call from Dr. Bergstrom regarding the
myelogram on Oso. He told me he was not successful in getting the dye in the
myelogram to pass through Oso's spinal cord in the neck area. He tried to have
the dye pass through an area near Oso's lower back, as well as near the neck
area. Dr. Bergstrom told me there was some sort of blockage in the neck which
could be from a blown disk or dislocated vertebrae and he wanted to have an MRI
done on Oso. I was told the MRI would give the most information on what was
going on with Oso's neck. I asked Dr. Bergstrom if the MRI could be done this
same morning (as the myelogram) but was told that it would have to wait until
the morning of 12/20/97 as again they did not want to put Oso to sleep twice
within 24 hours. Further conversation with Dr. Bergstrom revealed that the blood
work done on the morning of 12/18/97 had still not come back with laboratory
results, and that when he pulled the needle out for the myelogram, there was
blood in the fluid. He told me this blood would have been from the needle
scraping the spinal cord as it went inside.
I decided to have Oso removed from All-Care Animal Referral Center due to
what I believed was a lack of medical treatment he was receiving, as well as how
slow the treatment was being given. I phoned Southern California Surgical Group
and spoke with a technician named Gilbert. Gilbert arranged to meet my husband
and me at All-Care to transport Oso to So. Cal. Surgical Group. We met at
approximately 11:00 a.m. My husband went inside with me to have Oso discharged.
My husband also went to where Oso was located and told me that Oso did not look
very good. I went outside and explained to Gilbert the treatment Oso had
received thus far. I was met outside by Dr. Bergstrom who now told me that he
would be willing to do the MRI for free if we let Oso stay there. I told him no,
as this was not an issue about money, rather it was the lack of speed with which
medical treatment was being given.
It took approximately 45 minutes to get the paperwork finalized to remove Oso
from All-Care. He was carried out on a gurney with an I.V. needle still
attached. I became very upset on seeing Oso as in less than 33 hours his
condition had deteriorated so much that he had gone from walking into All-Care
to being carried out on a gurney. Oso's eyes were glazed over, he trembled
excessively and cried as if in extreme pain. I asked Dr. Bergstrom what was
wrong with Oso, and he replied that he was going through the after effects of
anesthesia from the myelogram. I had previously been told that the myelogram was
performed around 6:00 a.m. on 12/19/97. He further stated that Oso was not in
pain, rather, he was just scared from coming out of the anesthesia.
Oso was placed on the gurney into a van and driven to Southern California
Surgical Group by Gilbert. WE met them at the facility and Oso was rushed in to
see Dr. Hanson. Dr. Hanson met with us very soon after and told my husband and
me that Oso was "hour to hour" and was in very serious condition. We
were able to get Oso's medical records from All-Care and those were brought to
Dr. Hanson. Dr. Hanson asked us why All-Care had given Oso "Mannitol"
and I responded that I had no idea. I told Dr. Hanson the only medicine I was
told Oso was given was anti-inflammatory medicine. When asked what "Mannitol"
was, Dr. Hanson told me it was a diuretic for brain swelling. We then discussed
the tremors and glazed eyes that I observed on Oso. Dr. Hanson told me that in
his opinion the tremors were not after effects of anesthesia, especially if the
myelogram was performed at 6:00 a.m., and it was now more than six hours later.
Dr. Hanson told me that the tremors were the result of Oso having brain
seizures. Dr. Hanson advised that a second myelogram would need to be done, and
we allowed for this procedure.
Dr. Hanson was successful in performing the myelogram and having the dye pass
through the spinal cord. I was told there was no blockage of any sort, nor was
there a problem with Oso's neck regarding dislocated discs. At approximately
7:00 p.m. on 12/19/97 Oso was euthanized due to his condition having
deteriorated to the point of having no brain activity.
We authorized Dr. Hanson to have a necropsy performed on Oso. This was
performed by Daniel Gould, D V M/PhD at the Colorado Veterinary Diagnostic
Laboratory at Colorado State University, Fort Collins.
I believe it was on 12/20/97 or 12/21/97 when we received a phone call from
Dr. Bergstrom advising us that All-Care got the results of Oso's lab test. Dr.
Bergstrom advised me that the lab work done by All-Care showed Oso to have
"Rheticulosis" cells present. He said the only treatment would have
been a steroid which could have temporarily refused the effects, but the disease
would have been fatal.
I received a copy of the necropsy and phoned Dr. Bergstrom to request a
meeting with him to go over the treatment Oso received. Dr. Bergstrom called me
from his home and asked for a copy of the necropsy and asked that I get the
myelogram as well as he would like to compare it with the myelogram he had
performed. He further went on to ask if I was angry at him. I explained I was
upset with how slow treatment was being given to Oso and that my dog was dead. I
also discussed with him the condition Oso was in when he left All-Care and how,
according to Dr. Hanson, Oso was having brain seizures. Dr. Bergstrom denied the
tremors were seizures, instead saying they were the effects of the anesthesia
wearing off. I then told Dr. Bergstrom that I brought Oso to All-Care as I was
under the impression he would be seen by a Neurologist. When asked, Dr.
Bergstrom told me he was a Neurologist, but then quickly clarified it by saying
he was not Board Certified. I explained to him that in my profession, I cannot
go around claiming to be a position that I am not. Dr. Bergstrom's response to
that was there is a lot to be said for experience over education, and that he
had a lot of experience in neurology. Dr. Bergstrom said everything performed on
Oso was overseen by Dr. Rooks (Chief of Staff at All-Care) and he would not have
changed any of the treatment looking backwards. (It should be mentioned that I
had an uninvolved Veterinary look at the autopsy report and was told that no
where on the report did it indicate Oso had Rheticulosis).
Since dropping of a copy of the necropsy to for Dr. Bergstrom, I have had to
leave six messages to set up a meeting with him to discuss this case. My husband
and I finally walked into his office on 05/05/98 at 4:00 p.m. to see him without
an appointment. WE were told that Dr. Rooks wanted to meet with all of us to go
over the results. I was told to call on 05/07/98 to set up an appointment. Four
to five messages were left that day, again with negative results in getting a
meeting set up.
I am very frustrated not only over the fact that I believe my dog died due to
a lack of quality medical care and misdiagnosis, but now because of the
unprofessional conduct displayed by Dr. Bergstrom in my trying to discuss this
case with him. I was deceived into believing that Dr. Bergstrom was a Board
Certified Neurologist to attend to Oso. It should be mentioned that inside the
hallways of All-Care are photos of the staff with their names and specialties.
The photograph for Dr. Bergstrom indicates his name of Craig Bergstrom, with the
words "Internal Medicine/Neurology." I believe this further tries to
promote him as a Specialist which he is not. I am further upset with the fact
that I was told Oso was never given any pain medicine nor antibiotics, and
instead had to die a painful death which possibly could have been avoided if
treated aggressively in the beginning. When Oso was removed from All-Care to be
transported, none of us were ever told of the gravity of his condition. I am
appalled that All-Care allowed the dog to be transported without any life
support monitors, without being told of his grave condition, and without it even
being suggested to us to have him transported in an emergency ambulance which
All-Care has on scene. At no time during his treatment were we advised that Oso
should be seen by a Neurologist/Specialist.
On August 29, 1998, we finally were able to have a meeting with Dr. Rooks and
Dr. Bergstrom regarding this entire incident. In addition to myself, my husband
and a co-worker were present during the meeting. During this meeting, Dr.
Bergstrom was confronted with the issue of him not being a Board Certified
Neurologist, and that we were deceived into believing he was one. Dr. Bergstrom
stated that he has been studying neurology for eight years and travels to U C
Davis to receive training under Dr. Rick LeCoudeur. According to Dr. Rooks, Dr.
Bergstrom does this twice a month, and the only reason Dr. Bergstrom is not
Board Certified is because it is too expensive to complete the formal training.
Dr. Rooks insisted that DR. Bergstrom is a very competent Neurologist. Dr.
Bergstrom added that he has been told by Dr. LeCoudeur that he is proficient in
the field to call himself a Neurologist. We were told by Dr. Rooks and Dr.
Bergstrom that being a "Specialist" is defined by the Doctor and not
by Law! We were advised to call up Dr. LeCoudeur (530-752-1393) at U C Davis who
would tell us that Dr. Bergstrom is allowed to call himself a Neurologist. I
subsequently made the phone call and was told Dr. LeCoudeur did not take phone
calls; rather, they were screened out to interns. I received a phone call back
from an intern who told me the school has gone back and forth on the issue of
whether a D V M can call himself a Neurologist if not formally Board Certified.
She was not able to give me the answer.
I am submitting this complaint to you regarding Dr. Craig S. Bergstrom, Dr.
Robert L. Rooks, and Dr. Frank Borostyankoi of All-Care Animal Referral Center.
I have tried to resolve the issue in every way that I can through phone calls
and office visits. I am asking that his case be investigated, as I believe
All-Care has operated in an unprofessional, deceptive, and negligent manner
regarding the treatment of Oso, and the misrepresentation of Dr. Bergstrom.
Deborah L. Eskridge / Mark J. Eskridge