Sur­geon Sen­tenced to Life for Maim­ing Pa­tient

Traveling Minds - - Table Of Contents -

Could your doc­tor kill or maim you? There is a good chance that he/she/it could. Med­i­cal mal­prac­tice is the third lead­ing cause of death in the United States.

Most doc­tors who kill and maim their patents merely face civil suits and their med­i­cal mal­prac­tice in­sur­ance is likely to cover any judg­ments. But in the case of Dr. Christo­pher Duntsch, he will spend the rest of his life in prison for his med­i­cal crimes.

He was in­dicted in July of 2015 with five counts of ag­gra­vated as­sault caus­ing se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury, and one count of harm­ing an el­derly per­son with a deadly weapon. He was sen­tenced last month to life in prison.

Duntsch is the first sur­geon known to be sen­tenced to life in prison for a botched surgery. In a sim­i­lar case in Michi­gan, the Doc­tor was given 20 years.

Pros­e­cu­tors had claimed Duntsch’s hands and sur­gi­cal tools were “deadly weapons,” and he had “in­ten­tion­ally, know­ingly and reck­lessly” harmed up to 15 of his pa­tients.

Duntsch wasn't just an in­com­pe­tent sur­geon, he was a psy­chopath who wrote in an email to one of his em­ploy­ees, "I am ready to leave the love and kind­ness and good­ness and pa­tience that I mix with ev­ery­thing else that I am and be­come a cold blooded killer." And kill he did. At least two of his pa­tients died need­lessly from his 'op­er­a­tions' and 13 oth­ers were maimed.

Duntsch was con­victed pri­mar­ily be­cause of what he did to 74-year-old Mary Efurd in a ver­te­brae fu­sion in which he de­lib­er­ately dam­aged her spine and nerves. Efurd woke up af­ter surgery barely able to move her legs and in ex­treme pain.

He re­ceived his med­i­cal li­cense in Texas in 2010 and com­plaints were sub­mit­ted to the Texas Med­i­cal Board start­ing in 2012.

He was known to be un­qual­i­fied by his em­ploy­ers, peers, fam­ily and the Texas Med­i­cal Board but was al­lowed to con­tinue to kill and maim.

Med­i­cal per­son­nel who as­sisted Duntsch dur­ing a surgery in July 2012 say he ap­peared dis­tracted and dis­ori­ented and one his as­sis­tants ques­tioned whether he was un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs or al­co­hol.

The Texas Med­i­cal Board fi­nally sus­pended his li­cense in June 2013 and re­voked it in De­cem­ber of 2013 for "fail­ing to fol­low ap­pro­pri­ate pre­op­er­a­tive plan­ning stan­dards and fail­ing to rec­og­nize and re­spond to com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing surgery. This post­op­er­a­tively puts Dr. Duntsch's pa­tients at sig­nif­i­cant risk of harm and has re­sulted in at least two pa­tient deaths."

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Car­los Ba­gley, di­rec­tor of the neu­ro­log­i­cal surgery spine pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Texas South­west­ern Med­i­cal Cen­ter, “this was a com­plete and ut­ter fail­ure of the en­tire sys­tem of checks and bal­ances for pa­tient safety."

Duntsch claimed that he grad­u­ated with hon­ors from the Univer­sity of Ten­nessee but the Texas Med­i­cal Board did not ac­tu­ally ver­ify any of the in­for­ma­tion he gave them.

Af­ter his li­cense was re­voked Duntsch moved to Colorado and was ar­rested in Texas when he re­turned to visit his chil­dren.

A killer is now out of the oper­at­ing room and off the streets, but the Texas tax­pay­ers will have to pay for Duntsch's care and in­car­cer­a­tion for the rest of his life.

Christo­pher Duntsch in mugshot

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