Dr. Duntsch: Why Accountability for Poor Medical Care Matters

Dr. Duntsch: Why Accountability for Poor Medical Care Matters

Imagine putting a lot of faith into a surgeon to then become irreparably injured because of the surgeon’s poor skills. Many people and their families unfortunately know what this is like because of Cristopher Duntsch. He told prospective patients that he was the best surgeon and other neurosurgeons did not compare to him. When meeting with prospective patients he was very confident, but when he performed surgery, he caused severe irreparable damage and even death. One doctor oversaw one of his surgeries and saw blood pouring out of the patient’s body at an alarming rate. He then heard Duntsch announce he was taking out one of the ligaments that was one of the spinal column’s main stabilizers. The doctor stepped in and protected the patient and later said the surgery performed by Duntsch was sloppy and cancelled all of his remaining surgeries with Duntsch.

Many patients have suffered because of Duntsch including someone dying from blood loss, one person having a stroke from a sliced vertebral artery, and a childhood friend of Duntsch not being able to move his arms and legs after undergoing a procedure. Surgeons call these “never events” meaning they should never happen during a surgeon’s career. Multiple events like these occurred from only one surgeon, and he was continually allowed to perform surgery time and time again. Another catastrophic failure includes Duntsch severing a ligament in a patient’s leg, leading to chronic nerve pain in his back, incontinence, and the loss of feeling on the bottom of his feet.

With so many botched surgeries, it is startling that the Texas Medical Board did not revoke Duntsch’s privileges until June 2013 when complaints started as early as 2012. This led to lawyers turning to the justice system to try to prevent him from practicing medicine. A grand jury in Dallas indicted Duntsch on five accounts of aggravated assault and one count of harming an elderly person. Until these indictments, there have been no cases where a doctor was indicted for an act committed during surgery.

Duntsch’s story is tragic because there were so many hurdles to jump over to stop a surgeon that had continually hurt so many people. It took too long to stop him because the hospitals where he worked did not do their due diligence and hospitals that knew he was a bad surgeon did not speak up and warn others that he was a danger to the public. Duntsch’s story shows the failures of the medical system and shows why doctors need to be held accountable for their actions. If people don’t speak up after receiving poor medical care, the same thing can happen to someone else. People deserve compensation not just to make up for the poor care that they received but also to help prevent doctors with poor performance from practicing and hurting people again.

If you are a victim of medical malpractice including a badly performed surgery, a misdiagnosis, or negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us to see if one of our lawyers can get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form and one of our staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

Matt Goodman, “Dr. Death” D Magazine (November 2016). [Link]

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