In 2017, a jury sent ex-neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, aka Dr. D and Dr. Death, to life in prison for botched surgeries that resulted in two deaths and multiple cases of paralysis. Prosecutors said Duntsch’s surgical outcomes were so poor, so beyond the accepted standard of care, that a grand jury indicted him on five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as well as a one count of harming an elderly patient. Using information gathered in a yearlong investigation to prove his gross malpractice, attorneys identified more than 30 patients at the four hospitals who were harmed due to his carelessness in just over 18 months.:
- Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano: A patient bled to death after Duntsch punctured a major artery during surgery. Another was left quadriplegic.
- Dallas Medical Center: A woman died of a stroke after a routine operation.
- University General Hospital in Dallas: He severely disabled a man after cutting a neck muscle, severing a vocal cord, slicing an artery and his esophagus, and leaving a surgical sponge embedded in his throat.
Two weeks of trial testimony, revealed these additional horrific accounts by several of Duntsch’s patients.
- Philip Mayfield lives in chronic pain and cried when he thinks of all of his son’s football games that he hasn’t been able to watch.
- Barry Morguloff limped with a brace and a cane as a result of irreparable nerve damage to his spine.
- Jeff Cheney woke up from his surgery paralyzed from the neck down on his right side.
- Jackie Troy talks in a permanent whisper and almost died from an infection after she was left with puncture wounds in her throat after neck surgery.
Prosecutors said greed, an ego, and substance abuse from both drugs and alcohol fueled him. Duntsch once wrote in an email to colleagues that he was a “… stone cold killer.” The office of the district attorney prosecuting this case called it “a historic case with respect to prosecuting a doctor who had done wrong during surgery” because this was one of the first prison sentences given for medical malpractice, making it a precedent-setting case.
While we are grateful the story of Duntsch is not a normal one, it does show exactly how much control a patient gives up when trusting a physician, and that intentional malpractice should be treated criminal in nature.
Sometimes a negligent act by a medical professional doesn’t rise to the level of a crime, and you will require an attorney to represent you when injured or a loved one has been killed by careless health care providers including, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists and more.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Chicago
If you have experienced medical malpractice in Chicago or throughout Illinois, take action and immediately contact Levin & Perconti and call us at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872. A free consultation with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer will only help you during the recovery process.