Medical Malpractice On Display | A Short Case Study
The implications of medical malpractice cases can be far reaching. When a doctor or nurse makes an error it can potentially change a patient’s life forever. For this reason, medical professionals are held to high standards. Most doctors will do their best to act in the patient’s best interest and avoid any counts of medical negligence.
However, in rare cases, certain medical employees will regularly provide a substandard level of care that will endanger patients’ lives. Unfortunately this was the case with a recent story published on Attorney at Law Magazine about a neurosurgeon in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Christopher Duntsch, later nicknamed “Dr. Death” in an iTunes podcast series, committed repeated acts of medical negligence before he finally faced criminal proceedings.
During his time practicing spinal cord surgeries, Duntsch operated on 38 different patients. 31 were left paralyzed or seriously injured and two died at his hands. One of his colleagues went so far as to comment on his obvious incompetence when it came time to perform these surgeries.
Kirby said he immediately became alarmed when he realized Duntsch had “no spatial relationship skills at all” and struggled in the operating room. Kirby claimed Duntsch couldn’t move organs and blood vessels out of the way properly and nicked a patient’s vertebral artery, resulting in a pool of blood to form.
In addition to his lack of surgical understanding, there were speculations that Duntsch was struggling with drug and alcohol abuse during this time as well. It was even suggested that he may have been impaired during some of these operations. Despite his poor statistics and evidence of incompetence, Duntsch was still allowed to practice for over two years. Eventually the Texas medical board revoked his licence and Duntsch went to trial and was sentenced to life in prison.
This is a heavy sentence and is uncommon for most doctors hit with a medical malpractice lawsuit. This case was an extreme example because Duntsch was clearly acting irresponsibly by continuing to operate on patients and knowing he was causing them harm.
This short case study is meant to highlight the severity of medical negligence cases. Though this is a rare scenario, it serves as a good reminder that medical malpractice cases are real and could happen to anyone.