Dallas doctor charged with medical malpractice in patient deaths was ‘deadly weapon’, Texas officials say

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by John Chapman

A former Dallas neurosurgeon whose actions led to the deaths of at least two patients and injuries to several others has been charged with multiple counts of assault in what Texas authorities are calling one of the worst cases of medical malpractice they have ever witnessed. Christopher Duntsch, who lost his medical license in 2013, is facing charges that include five counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and one count of injury to an elderly person causing serious bodily injury.

According to the indictment filed by Dallas prosecutors, Duntsch committed medical errors while practicing medicine that were so egregious his hands amounted to a “deadly weapon”. Among other charges, Duntsch is accused of improperly inserting screws or medical devices into patients meant to treat nerve pain, operating on the wrong part of a patient’s spine, causing nerve damage that left one woman in a wheelchair, and leaving a sponge in a patient following surgery.

State health officials began receiving complaints about Duntsch two years after he received his medical license in 2010. In 2013, the Texas Medical Board suspended the doctor’s ability to practice medicine in the state, finding that he was “unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety due to impairment from drugs or alcohol”. Duntsch later admitted to violating standards of care for six patients.

In addition to the criminal charges he faces, Duntsch has also had at least three medical malpractice lawsuits filed against him in recent years. In one lawsuit filed in Dallas County, the former doctor was accused of misdiagnosing one woman’s neck pain and botching her surgery to such a degree that she suffered a stroke and died from blood loss. According to another lawsuit, medical assistants working with the doctor in July 2012 questioned whether Duntsch was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during another surgical procedure.

Duntsch, who resides in Colorado, was arrested recently when he returned to the Dallas area to visit his two children. The former surgeon is currently being held on $600,000 bail at the Dallas County Jail while awaiting trial.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Patients depend on the doctors and medical staff who treat their injuries, illnesses, and other medical conditions to protect their health and well-being. Unfortunately, far too often patients find themselves victims of medical negligence on the part of doctors and other medical professionals. Experts estimate that more than 225,000 patients die each year as a result of medical malpractice incidents, many of which were easily preventable.

Although some malpractice cases involve egregious violations such as those alleged against Dr. Duntsch, other cases may involve negligence or mistakes that can have serious consequences.  These incidents may include misdiagnosed injuries or illnesses, failure to diagnose, medication errors,, failure to obtain a complete and accurate patient history, surgical errors, delays in treatment, preventable infections, defective medical equipment, or unnecessary medical procedures.

When medical errors lead to serious injuries or the wrongful death of patients, the doctors or hospitals that were responsible may be held accountable for their negligence in a court of law. The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have both the expertise and experience to assist injured patients with filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our lawyers have represented numerous victims of medical malpractice. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for numerous years in a row.*

If believe that you or a loved one have been hurt as a result of medical malpractice or negligence on the part of a doctor, hospital, or medical staff, you may qualify to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and other costs. For a free legal consultation about your case and learn how we may be able to help with your case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by follow the link to our free case evaluation form and answer a few simple questions to get started.

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* Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2015.