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Lawsuit against alleged 'dangerous' Plano doctor


A hospital has been accused of allowing a 'dangerous' surgeon, who has been known for causing multiple paralysis and even death for operating on patients in North Texas.

Allegations are being made in a federal lawsuit again Baylor Plano hospital by two patients who say Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a spine surgeon should have never been given credentials.

Duntsch has been billed as one of the most accomplished spine surgeons in North Texas. that in July 2011, Baylor Plano had agreed to pay him $50,000 a month and additional expenses to work exclusively at their hospital.

But lawsuits however has been filed by Dallas attorney Kay Van Wey, Duntsch's previous employer who claimed him to be "an egomaniac, mentally ill, an alcoholic, drug addict or a combination thereof." Baylor however has yet to filed a response to the suit and denies the claims. Baylor Plano was warned, but hired Duntsch, Van Wey said.

"But after that there were multiple, multiple opportunities for them to stop him," said Van Wey.

Kenneth Fennell of Oak Point said he was one of Duntsch's first patient. Fennel underwent two surgeries, with Van Wey stating that both were unnecessary. The second surgery would leave Fennel with serious medical malpractices, leaving him permanently disabled.

Lee Passmore, another patient of Duntsch is also suing Baylor for a back surgery performed in December 2011.

"I haven't been able to walk straight, or run, or anything since that surgery," Passmore said. During Passmore's surgery, an assisting surgeon had to physically intervene Duntsch after noticing him botching during the operation.

"Duntsch refused to stop." said James Girards, Passmore's attorney. "Stop doing what you are doing,' because Duntsch was going to damage Lee's spinal cord if he continued."

Girards said the altercation was witnessed by hospital staff but never reported, an allegation that Baylor denies.

According to suits, one month later, other surgeons began to describe Duntsch as "an impaired physician, a sociopath who must be stopped from practicing medicine."

But no one stopped Duntsch. It was reported that Duntsch once operated on his own roommate, and best friend Jerry Summers, who could walk the day before the operation at Baylor.

However, the day after his operation, would leave him quadriplegic.

"It was supposed to be a pretty common surgery, and I was supposed to walk in one day and walk out the next," said Summers.

In Fennell's suit, Summers told the nursing staff that he witnessed Duntsch using drugs the night before the operation. The attorney that are representing Summers has called for a lawsuit against Baylor Plano and Dr. Duntsch's drug use.

Duntsch’s privileges were suspended for only a few weeks.

The alleged suit claims that Duntsch came back on the second day from his suspension at Baylor Plano. Hospital officials then allowed him to operate on Kelly Martin of Garland. Duntsch allegedly botched her surgery. She died from massive blood loss.

"They should have stripped him of his hospital privileges,” said Van Wey . “They should have reported him to the Texas Medical Board. They should have reported him to the National Practitioner Data Bank."
Instead, after leaving Baylor Plano, Duntsch received temporary privileges to operate at Dallas Medical Center. The suit alleges "Baylor Plano sent a letter of recommendation for Duntsch to Dallas Medical Center [...] stating there were no adverse events or adverse issues associated with Duntsch."

"I had no negative reviews or disciplinary actions," said Duntsch over a phone conversation last summer. "They wrote me a letter saying that I was in good standing the whole time. There was never any discipline, and I was never, ever reviewed."

A Baylor spokesperson said that last year it did not file any formal complaints about Duntsch.

"Generally speaking, since we did not file any complaints against him, he would have been in good standing when he resigned," said Jennifer McDowell, a Baylor spokesperson.

Lawyers suing Baylor Plano say that their cases against the hospital and the doctor are made difficult due to Texas law, which say that they cannot prove Baylor was "negligent." Lawyers have to prove that Duntsch intended to harm patients when they let Duntsch operate on them at the Baylor Plano hospital.

Source: WFAA "Lawsuits allege Baylor Plano let 'dangerous' doctor operate". Brett Shipp, February 10, 2014