We recently came across an MSN News story that we found so mind boggling, we had to share it with you today. The story of Dallas-based neurosurgeon, Christopher Duntsch is so horrific, it represents one of the most extreme cases of medical misconduct in the United States. It is a story, however, that cannot be ignored. He was, as highlighted by the news story’s title, “A Surgeon So Bad It Was Criminal”.
The article begins by detailing the severe neck pain suffered by 54 year-old, Jeff Glidewell.
He was enduring increased pain caused by a decade-old accident that forced him into living on disability. In the spring of 2013, Glidewell found Dr. Duntsch during a Google search for Dallas-based practitioners who would accept his Medicare Advantage insurance. By all accounts, the doctor’s reputation appeared very impressive. However, the truth about Dr. Duntsch’s practice was far more sinister.
The MSN News report reveals that in the two years that Duntsch had practiced medicine in Dallas, 33 of his 37 patients has been injured during procedures he performed. “Some had permanent nerve damage,” the report details, “Several woke up from surgery unable to move from the neck down or feel one side of their bodies. Two died in the hospital, including a 55-year-old schoolteacher undergoing what was supposed to be a straightforward day surgery.”
The report also highlights a shocking fact about the American medical community.
Neurosurgeons are given somewhat of an unofficial immunity from punishment for wrongdoing. Because they are worth millions of dollars in revenue for hospitals, their dangerous acts of malpractice are often kept secret. In the case of Duntsch, at least two facilities failed to report him after requesting his resignations due to “his ineptitude”.
Evidently, they chose to spare themselves from any legal hassle by accepting Duntsch’s resignation over firing him. As a result, the injury-worsening neurosurgeon was left with a sterling reputation, only making more patients susceptible to his life-altering incompetence. Sadly, Glidewell would become part of this unfortunate group as the last patient Duntsch operated on before finally being stripped of his license to practice medicine.
Reports MSN News: “According to doctors who reviewed the case, Duntsch mistook part of his neck muscle for a tumor and abandoned the operation midway through — after cutting into Glidewell’s vocal cords, puncturing an artery, slicing a hole in his esophagus, stuffing a sponge into the wound and then sewing Glidewell up, sponge and all.”
There was no tumor.
And Duntsch made a series of errors following this misdiagnosis. Following surgery, Glidewell was forced to spend four days in intensive care and had to undergo several months of rehabilitation for the wound to his esophagus. He continues to have nerve damage that causes numbness in his hand and arm and can only eat food in small bites to this day.
As mentioned, Glidewell is far from Duntsch’s only victim. On February 14, 2017, a Texas jury found the disgraced neurosurgeon guilty of maiming patients. “He was sentenced to life in prison,” MSN News updates us, “He’s currently incarcerated in Huntsville, about an hour outside Houston.”
Are you an attorney trying a medical misconduct case?
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