A neurosurgeon has been suspended temporarily by the Texas Medical Board because his practices led to “significant risk of harm” and resulted in the deaths of at least two patients over the past year and a half. The suspension was issued against Dr. Christopher Duntsch. Numerous mistakes in four surgical cases were cited. These mistakes included diagnostic breakdowns and failure to recognize and respond to complications. The order also said he is not able to practice medicine with the necessary skill and safety because he has been impaired by drugs and alcohol.
Since January 2012, the self-proclaimed expert in “minimally invasive” spinal surgeries has botched procedures, leaving two people dead, a third person paralyzed, and a fourth severely injured. He had also misdiagnosed patients, used the wrong equipment and procedures, and had failed to ordered necessary neuro-imaging tests. When things went wrong during his procedures, he either did not realize it, or if he did, made the situation worse by trying to fix it by using the wrong procedures. Almost all his patients suffered excessive blood loss.
At a hospital where he recently practiced, a patient was injured during a spinal procedure due to Duntsch’s “poor judgment and insufficient knowledge of the regional anatomy.” After this incident the hospital suspended his privileges and has begun conducting its own internal investigation.
A spokeswoman for the medical board has characterized this suspension as one of the most alarming cases that has involved a Texas neurosurgeon in recent history, given the number of medical errors in such a short span of time.
Duntsch is also being sued by one of his patients, Mary Efurd. She is alleging that Duntsch failed to “properly examine, diagnose and treat” her during her spinal procedure. This resulted in Efurd suffering from partial paralysis among other problems. It is also alleged that the other medical personnel in the operating room voiced their concerns about Duntsch’s care of Efurd. However Duntsch did not listen or even respond to their concerns. He is also alleged to have been “distracted or disoriented.”
The Texas Medical Board plans to schedule a hearing as soon as possible but the suspension will remain in effect pending any further action.
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