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Deadly Back Surgery

From Audio: Three Days In Dallas | 1

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Dr. Death
Duration: 10:09
Specializing in back surgery, Dr. Death had people's live's in his hands, and he chose to ruin them.
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Specializing in back surgery, Dr. Death had people's live's in his hands, and he chose to ruin them.
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this is Episode one three days in Dallas. I've lived and worked in Dallas for more than 20 years as a medical journalist, although now I write mostly for national magazines. I used to work for The Dallas Morning News. I've been in and out of a fair share of the hospitals here. We've got a lot of them. Dallas Medical Center sits just outside the northern edge of town. It's a community hospital, an uninspired brown building, just a few stories tall. It's been around under one name or another for decades, and it's one of several hospitals in the area where Dr Robert Henderson has worked during his 40 year career. He's a trim man, balding with a short grey beard. On July 26 2012, Dr Henderson was at home when he got a phone call from the administrator of Dallas Medical Center, and I was called in the afternoon, right around two o'clock. They had a patient who had just been through surgery, and she was not doing well, so I was over at that other hospital, probably within 90 minutes. Dr. Henderson is highly respected in the Dallas medical community. He truly loves being a surgeon. Well, I wanted to be a physician since I was seven years old and then a medical school. He quickly realized that he liked fixing people's problems just like that, seeing patients diagnosed appropriately, seeing patients, receiving the proper surgical procedure and then just observing and basking in the pride of having reversed their disease in many cases, uh, stopping their pain and actually curing problems. And that's what I liked. And had you gotten a call before this to come in and correct procedure from a previous surgeon I have over the years that's occurred multiple times, but usually it's initiated by the surgeon themselves. I mean, every surgeon has the potential to get into a situation you can't handle. Either it's outside the scope of especially, or you just discover something that wasn't there. Recognized on the preoperative diagnostics, it needs to be taken care of or an accident occurs. For most of his career, Dr Henderson has focused exclusively on the back. He's even helped develop some of the surgical techniques common to spine surgeries today. It wasn't unusual for him to get asked to help with a complicated spinal case, but this call this call was different, but I had never been called in by the administration to take over the care of a patient. When Henderson got to Dallas Medical Center, the administrator started filling him in. The patient was a woman named Mary Efford. She'd come in for surgery on her own 2 ft, but after a long day in the operating room, she had been left in agony. Now she could barely move her legs or wiggle her toes. The administrator also told Henderson the name of Mary Efford, surgeon. I had heard Donkey's name previously through Kind of the Grapevine, Dr Christopher Dutch. What he'd heard wasn't good, but it was just talk. Murmurs in Doctor's Lounge is he hadn't paid that much attention. Well, I'm putting it together with what I'd heard on the grapevine. And of course now I have a deep level of concern in some verification of what I'd heard. But Dr Henderson was also aware he was hearing from someone who might not understand all the nuances of spinal surgery, and now I really want to look at the diagnostics. Look at all the imaging that has been done since her operation. Henderson studied the X rays and the notes. Dr. Dutch had written step by step before the surgery, how he was going to go about it. His plan was correct, except there was a problem. The procedure that he intended to do was not the procedure that he did perform. So what's going through your mind when you're looking at the X rays and his operative notes and you're reading all of this? What are you thinking? Well, I'm really thinking that some kind of travesty occurred here because he hasn't done virtually anything that he intended to do or that he described in the operation. But the ailing Mary effort wasn't even the whole story. From that day at Dallas Medical Center, Dr Henderson also learned about another woman Dr Dutch had operated on just the day before, who was also in serious condition. So serious, in fact, that she had been taken into intensive care just as Dutch was scheduled to begin operating on Mary effort. He's doing it what one of these patients that he's operated on the previous day is dying, Yeah, and needs expert care. And he's the only neurosurgeon there, and he totally abandoned her. The other woman, the one who was already an intensive care was named Flow L. A. Brown Flow. L. A was 64 years old. She and her husband, Joe, had met and fallen in love in high school. Joe had retired and flow. Ella was getting ready to retire to. She had next surgery once before. A few years back, the doctors had installed titanium plates, but now her neck and left shoulder were hurting. She wanted to be pain free. Before she and Joe moved to a house on Lake Texoma, Dr Dutch was supposed to remove a disk from her spine and attached hardware to fasten two vertebrae together. He began the surgery early on the morning of July 24th 2012. A Tuesday. Racially. Oh, this is Most people in the room assumes that everything was going smoothly for the 1st 20 or 30 minutes. Then Dr Done started to complain that he was having trouble seeing her spine. He was saying, There's so much, but I can't see. Kyle Kissinger was one of the nurses in the operating room that morning. He'd worked with Dr Dutch the day before and was already starting to wonder how good a surgeon he was. So he was using one of the scrub text from our hospital. And so he just keeps telling her sophomore sophomore, Get that blood out there. I can't see. There was a lot of blood way more than there should have been. It was seeping through the blue, draping around flow Ella's body and dripping onto the floor. There was a bucket on the floor for use sponges, usually when they're tossed into the bucket there, splotchy or slightly pink. But not this time. I was getting back dark red sponges. Sponges were soaked through with blood. The surgery lasted a long time, way longer than it should have when it was done. Flow L. A. Had lost a lot of blood in the recovery room, though she said she felt okay. She asked for ice that evening. Joe came to visit with their son and granddaughter. Joe was worried. Something about his wife didn't seem right. He would later describe her as Vigee. When he came back at around 5 30 the next morning, her condition had deteriorated. Flotillas body was convulsing. Joe dashed to the front desk and told the nurses she needed help. A half hour later, flow L. A. Brown lost consciousness. When Kyle Kissinger arrived for work, another nurse told me, Hey, you know, did you hear what's going on with the patient from yesterday? Kissinger asked. If Dr Done, which had been to see her. I'm like, Well, have you called him or, you know, she just says We're unable to get a hold of them. So which is concerning, in fact, Dr Done, which was nowhere to be found. He was due to perform another surgery that morning, the one on Mary Efford. The operation was supposed to start at 7 a.m. But seven came and went. Finally, around 7 45 he arrived at the hospital. When he got there, Kissinger told him about what was going on with flow L. A. Brown. Dr. Dench looked disheveled. He had two days of stubble. He had pinpoint pupils and hardly seemed to blink. Kissinger turned to the surgical tech, so I turned again and said, I mean, am I wrong? Is that guy on something? And there was something else. Dutch had a hole about the size of a nickel in the back of his scrubs was on the but chief of his scrubs, and, uh, he didn't wear underwear. So, like, that's why I really, like, you know, shined out to me. It stood out to him because he had seen that same hole twice before. That hole I saw Monday, Tuesday. Wednesday. It could only mean one thing Dr Done, which hadn't changed his scrubs in three days. Kissinger couldn't believe it. That's kind of concerning, given the fact that Ortho and sponsor jeans are very, very much sticklers when it comes to sterility with his last patient in the ICU. No one would have been surprised if Dr Dutch decided to delay the Mary F. Fridge surgery and tend to flow Ella, but instead he began the operation.
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