Dr. Death and the Importance of the Civil Justice System

Written By Thomas Hall

My kids have recently introduced me to the wonderful world of podcasts. One that was recommended to me recently is titled, “Dr. Death”. I would recommend it to anyone.

Doctor Death is the story of a neurosurgeon practicing in Dallas, Texas who left a trail of carnage in the wake of his surgical practice. The podcast delves into how this neurosurgeon, who was fellowship trained at a reputable medical institution, repeatedly performed surgeries that left his patients paraplegic, quadriplegic, brain damaged, or dead. How could this doctor who, on paper appeared to be so competent, in practice, be so incompetent?

But perhaps the more important question is, how such a doctor could be permitted to practice for years before he was finally stopped? Numerous hospitals continued to allow him to practice within their walls. The Texas state agency that issued licenses continued to credential him. In short, the system that is designed to safeguard patients from incompetent medical care totally failed to protect the victims of Dr. Death.

An important part of the story is that a patient’s lawyer’s use of the civil justice system was instrumental in accomplishing that which the medical patient safety system was unable to do – stop this dangerous surgeon before he maimed or killed another innocent patient. By filing suit against the doctor and the various hospitals that continued to allow him to practice, more information came to light which ultimately was used by the district attorney in prosecuting Dr. Death for his path of surgical carnage.

Remember, the civil justice system exists for two main reasons – to achieve fair compensation and justice for the victim, and to expose the flaws in safety systems that are supposed to keep all of us safe, in order that those flaws can be fixed so other friends and neighbors do not suffer the same tragic consequences. At Atlee Hall, our mission is to hold these negligent parties accountable to not only seek justice for our clients, but help in upholding safety standards to create a safer community.

*Dr. Death was produced by Wondery and is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Tune In.