The United States criminal justice system sets a bail amount for anyone accused of a crime. So long as they’re not a threat to the community or a flight risk. However, the amount is generally set higher or lower depending on the severity of the crime.
Christopher Duntsch aka Dr. Death’s bail was set at $600,000 after the doctor’s father admitted that his son one day hoped to get his license back and practice medicine again– posing a future threat to the community. Today, A-EZ Out Bail Bonds will tell the tale of Dr. Death– the terror of North Texas that killed and maimed his patients on the operating table.
The Story of Christopher Duntsch
Duntsch was by all accounts a charismatic man with the desire to be #1 at everything he did. In fact, he never gave up, even when it was obvious to everyone else that he was terrible.
Christopher Duntsch received his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis before moving on to the University of Tennessee Health Center where he earned his M.D. and Ph.D. It seemed that he was on track to enjoy a promising career as a neurosurgeon. He performed so well in his studies that he earned his place in the prestigious Alpha Omega Medical Honor Society and as he began searching for jobs, his former professors only sang his praises.
According to Rolling Stone, Duntsch successfully completed his surgical residency at the University of Tennesse in Memphis on schedule. There he spent five years studying neurosurgery and a year studying general surgery. Although one part that’s often left out is that during this time, he participated in fewer than 100 surgeries. A number that’s laughable to qualified surgeons, as we heard in the Dr. Death podcast by Wondery.
During Duntsch’s trial, former friends and colleagues testified that he used drugs and alcohol throughout his residency, and during his final year, he was prohibited from performing surgery without supervision. That’s probably a large part of why Dr. Death spent most of his residency working in the hospital lab.
Throughout his residency, Duntsch’s main interests seemed to revolve around research and making a whole lotta money. He eventually sought to capitalize on the research conducted by a couple of Russian stem cell scientists. So Duntsch started a couple of business ventures. One fizzled out due to lack of funding during the recession and the other he was forced out of.
Dr. Death Gets Started in Plano
Often called a narcissistic sociopath, the doctor turned to his backup plan– neurosurgery (crazy, we know) once his business ventures were no longer viable. Duntsch was hired at the Minimally Invasive Spine Institue in Dallas, Texas. However, Baylor Plano also welcomed Duntsch with open arms, offering him surgical rights.
Duntsch was fired from MIS in Dallas for going to Vegas instead of caring for a patient. However, he retained surgical rights at Baylor Plano. While there he maimed several patients including his best friend, a man who entered surgery as an athlete and left a quadriplegic. It’s generally acknowledged that during this time, Duntsch was under the influence of drugs like cocaine and LSD.
After a time, Baylor Plano ushered him out the door with a clean slate without reporting him to Texas’ medical board. Other area surgeons speculate that this was a decision made to keep the focus off of the hospital without regard to the danger Duntsch presented to the public. Since then, Baylor Plano has been criticized for helping him continue to practice as he next moved on to the Dallas Medical Center where he continued to harm his patients.
The Dallas Medical Center
Duntsch went on to botch two more surgeries at The Dallas Medical Center. This was the beginning of the end for Dr. Death. Here, Dr. Robert Henderson, a renowned neurosurgeon was called to repair the damage done by Duntsch. He was appalled by what he found and couldn’t believe a trained surgeon could do so much harm to a patient.
Where so many hospitals that had employed Duntsch failed, Dr. Henderson did not. He began the lengthy process of filing a complaint with the Texas Medical Board and called for Duntsch’s medical license to be revoked. This was in 2012, and what you would hope would be the end of Dr. Death’s career. Unfortunately, they were slow-acting and Dr. Henderson spent the next year trying to make the medical board take action. Meanwhile, Dr. Death continued along his path of destruction.
The Last Surgery
Sadly, Dr. Duntsch continued performing surgeries until May 2013. During his last surgery, Duntsch was meant to perform a routine surgery to relieve neck pain caused by an accident. Dr. Death allegedly mistook the patient’s neck muscle for a tumor and promptly gave up on the operation, but only after puncturing an artery. During the procedure, he also cut the patient’s esophagus and sliced his vocal cords before sewing the patient up with a sponge still inside him.
Around this time, there were so many complaints filed against Dr. Death that the Texas Medical Board was able to suspend his license. Later that year, his medical license was revoked completely.
Duntsch either killed or caused lasting damage to 35 out of 38 of his patients over the course of two years. This could’ve been chalked up to him being grossly incompetent or poorly trained, although others suggested it was the drug use and narcissism that made him unaware of how bad he was at performing surgery.
However, an email to his former girlfriend and surgical assistant led the public to believe he had malicious intent from the start. In December 2011, Duntsch sent Kimberly Morgan the following email:
“I really am building an empire…
Anyone close to me things that I likely am something between god, einstein, and the antichrist…
I am ready to leave the love and kindness and goodness and patience that I mix with everything else that I am and become a cold blooded killer.”– Christopher Duntsch (in an email to Kimberly Morgan)
Paired with all of the other testimonies, it’s hard to classify his actions as anything other than criminal.
Still, it was tough to make any charges against the disgraced doctor stick due to Texas’ stringent medical malpractice laws that seek to protect medical practitioners from lawsuits. In fact, Christopher Duntsch was the first physician ever to be tried for the way he practiced medicine.
But the prosecutors were finally able to nail him when they found one loophole. One of his earlier patients, Mary Efurd, was 74 when Dr. Death botched her surgery. Prosecutors were able to charge him with five counts of aggravated assault and one count of injury to an elderly person.
With all of the overwhelming evidence, the jury quickly found him to be guilty. Now, Duntsch is serving out a life sentence.
A-EZ Out Bail Bonds
This story seems to be too insane to be true. But sadly, there are numerous other instances of bad guys getting away with crimes for far too long. Check back later to learn more about these devious criminal masterminds. Or check back for more info about the Texas justice system and our bail bonds! Of course, you can always give us a call too.