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In Texas, hospitals don't care if a doctor murders people

When someone complains about malpractice or advocates for "tort reform," this is the end state. A world where no one can be sued for anything, even paralyzing you or killing your father after performing surgery drunk.

Licensed to Kill | The Texas Observer

Morguloff’s surgery, a spinal fusion, didn’t go well. Dr. Randall Kirby, a prominent Dallas surgeon who assisted Duntsch in the surgery, compared Duntsch’s technique to that of a first-year medical student. Duntsch, he later wrote, didn’t seem to have any understanding of spinal anatomy. Morguloff says he woke up with agonizing pain in his left leg; Duntsch prescribed him painkillers and told him the pain would go away. Six months later, a doctor at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas found that Duntsch had installed the spinal hardware wrong and left bone fragments in the nerves of Morguloff’s back, requiring another round of surgery to remove them.

In March, Barry Morguloff—along with three other plaintiffs in related suits—sued the Baylor Health Care System in federal district court in Dallas. The lawyers representing Morguloff, Kenneth Fennell, Mary Efurd and Leroy Passmore are coordinating their cases, arguing that Duntsch was dangerous and Baylor should have stopped him from operating on them. Their stories have the trappings of farce: For example, when Duntsch operated on Passmore, a Collin County medical examiner, in December 2011, the surgery went so badly that the assisting surgeon grabbed Duntsch’s surgical instruments and tried to force him to stop, according to Passmore’s lawsuit. (He failed.) Morguloff’s complaint cites the case of another patient—one of Duntsch’s first at Baylor—who he left unattended in the recovery room while he went to Las Vegas.

According to his attorneys, Morguloff will walk with a cane for the rest of his life. Passmore suffers from constant pain and, according to his suit, can’t “lift objects of any significant weight.” Efurd and Fennell allege in their lawsuits that they sustained severe nerve damage.

The striking thing about Duntsch’s relationship with Baylor Plano is just how tolerant the hospital was of his behavior—according to the lawsuits, he literally had to kill someone to get fired. A month after Morguloff woke up in agony, Duntsch operated on Jerry Summers, his best friend and former roommate. According to Morguloff’s lawsuit, Summers woke up from surgery a quadriplegic; he told Baylor’s ICU staff that Duntsch had been up using drugs all night.

Baylor suspended Duntsch for a month. In his first surgery after his suspension lifted, he nicked the vertebral artery of Kellie Martin, a 55-year-old Garland woman. She bled to death in the ICU.
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