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Gross Negligence show details Gross Negligence
Jul 12th, 2014

Dr. Craig Fischer monitored my medications over the course of about 7 years, but I no longer see him, because I ended up with chronic kidney disease that was indicated by lab results for YEARS without him ever informing me or referring me to a kidney specialist. I was taking lithium, which is known to cause significant kidney damage in some patients, and so it requires frequent blood tests to make sure that the kidneys remain healthy. Over the course of the years I was seeing Dr. Fischer, I frequently showed symptoms which I later learned to be indicative of lithium toxicity and/or kidney disease, such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, lack of appetite, nausea, frequent urination, and trouble sleeping. I discussed these symptoms with him every time we met (usually once a month, though he takes a few long vacations every year), and he always dismissed them as insignificant. In 2013, my fatigue and nausea became so severe that I consulted my primary care physician about the situation (which I hadn’t done previously, because I trusted Dr. Fischer, and he had always dismissed my concerns). My GP ran some blood tests and was extremely concerned about the results, which showed that I was in Stage 3 of chronic kidney disease. My GP immediately consulted two nephrologists (kidney specialists), and both advised that I stop taking lithium *immediately*, since it could continue to damage my kidneys as long as I was taking it. With the help of a psychiatrist (not Dr. Fischer), I reduced my lithium dosage as quickly as possible and no longer take the medication. I went to see a nephrologist (July 2013), and she affirmed that it was undoubtedly the lithium which had caused my kidney disease, and that this kind of damage to the kidneys almost never improves, even after you stop using the medication. Analysis of past lab results showed that I had been in Stage 3 chronic kidney disease for more than 4 years, and though Dr. Fischer had ordered and analyzed all of these lab results himself, he had never mentioned the problem or referred me to a specialist to investigate. We’ll never know if my kidney damage could have been reversed if diagnosed sooner, but we can certainly state with no question that the delay in diagnosis was due to Dr. Fischer’s decisions. I believe that Dr. Fischer’s treatment of me is an excellent example of the Supreme Court of California’s definition of “gross negligence.” I believe that Dr. Fischer committed malpractice, and I am filing an official complaint with the Medical Board of California. I know that Dr. Fischer is treating many other patients, probably monitoring their medications as effectively as he monitored mine, and I worry that some of them may also suffer permanent consequences as a result. I now have less than 50% kidney function for the rest of my life, and Dr. Fischer may have been able to prevent that, but he did not even seem to try.