Surgeon Sentenced to Life for Maiming Patient
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.