Home

About
- About Us
- Community Guidelines

Advertising on BOR
- Advertise on BOR

Advertisements


We're Counting On You.

Burnt Orange Report is redeveloping our website for the first time in almost a decade.

We're counting on your support to continue providing you free and frequent coverage of progressive issues that matter to Texans.

Help us build a website that is as great as the content we publish on it.



Greg Abbott Intervenes In Suit Involving "Sociopathic Neurosurgeon"


by: Nick Hudson

Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 09:00 AM CDT



If Greg Abbott has his way, there will be no justice for victims of a Dallas neurosurgeon that killed two patients and paralyzed four in a series of botched surgeries.

As the Dallas Morning News reports, Texas' Attorney General Greg Abbott filed motions this week to intervene in three federal lawsuits brought against Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano on behalf of former patients of Dr. Christopher Duntsch. The patients allege that Baylor Plano  knew Dr. Duntsch was a dangerous surgeon and it could have prevented him from killing and maiming patients.

The suits also challenge the constitutionality of a state law that requires plaintiffs to prove that Baylor Plano intended to harm patients. That law is part of the Texas Legislature's 2003 tort reform package. The Legislature removed the term "gross negligence" from the definition of legal malice.

Read more below the jump!

ADVERTISEMENT
The Texas Medical Board suspended Duntsch's license in June of 2013 after physicians complained about him by using phrases like, " the worst surgeon I've ever seen." One doctor that compared Duntsch to Hannibal Lecter, "three times in eight minutes." In a very good article examining the health of Texas' system for dealing with dangerous doctors, the Texas Observer in August of last year gave a descriptive account of Dr. Duntsch's maiming and killing of patients:

The first three surgeries of Duntsch's trial took place on three consecutive days in July 2012, a month after the first complaint against him with the Texas Medical Board. The first surgery went fine. In the second, while doing a cervical fusion on a woman named Floella Brown, Duntsch "removed a bone from an area that was not required by any clinical or anatomical standards, resulting in injury to the vertebral artery," according to Texas Medical Board records. Brown was later found unresponsive in her hospital room and staff couldn't contact Duntsch for 90 minutes, according to those records. Brown had suffered excessive blood loss and a stroke, according to the agency. By the time she was transferred to UT Southwestern Medical Center later that day, she was brain dead. As she lay dying, Duntsch performed his third surgery, on a woman named Mary Efurd. Another spinal fusion; another routine procedure. Efurd woke up after surgery in horrible pain, barely able to move her legs."

Responding to Abbott's motion in the suit, one of the plaintiffs' attorney's criticized the Attorney General:

"I think it's absolutely insane that he has chosen to defend the hospital that enabled this ... sociopathic neurosurgeon to wreak havoc on its patients," Girards said. "I hate to think he's doing it to pander to the medical lobby."

If Abbott successfully defends the Texas law, the patients harmed by Dr. Duntsch will have a much more difficult time winning their civil suit against Baylor Plano.

The bottom line is that the Texas Legislature has deliberately created a medical system that protects Doctors like Duntsch and prevents patients from getting access to justice. In 2003, lawmakers enacted the nearly impossible requirement that patients must prove the hospital intended to harm patients. Lawmakers also capped damages for pain-and-suffering in medical malpractice suits at a mesasley $250,000. And our Texas Medical Board ill-equipped to handle cases like this: They can only revoke a doctor's license after a lengthy investigation that reveals overwhelming evidence against a doctor.

This case is a consequence of the weakness of Texas' under-regulated medical system. As the Texas Observer article notes, the real tragedy is that the killing and maiming of patients by Duntsch may have been preventable.



Copyright Burnt Orange Report, all rights reserved.
Do not republish without express written permission.


Tags: , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

Connect With BOR
    

2014 Texas Elections
Follow BOR for who's in, who's out, and who's up.

Candidate Tracker:
-- Statewide Races
-- Congressional Races
-- State Senate Races
-- State Rep. Races
-- SBOE Races
-- Austin City Council

Click here for all 2014 Elections coverage

Menu

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


Texas Blue Pages

Texas Blue Pages
A career network for progressives.

Advertisement

Shared On Facebook

Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

Founder:
Byron LaMasters

Blogger Emeritus:
Karl-Thomas Musselman

Read staff bios here.

Traffic Ratings
- Alexa Rating
- Quantcast Ratings
-
Syndication

Powered by: SoapBlox