Authorities Say a Plano Neurosurgeon Killed, Paralyzed and Left Sponges Inside Patients

Categories: Healthcare, News

Dr. Christopher Duntsch didn't last long as a doctor in Texas. Two and a half years after the state awarded him a medical license, the founder and chief surgeon of the Texas Neurosurgical Institute in Plano had it indefinitely revoked by the Texas Medical Board, which decided he posed a grave danger to patients.

They had good reason to be concerned, at least according to information presented at a hearing on Wednesday. Over 16 months beginning in January 2012, the agency says Duntsch, a self-proclaimed expert in "minimally invasive" spinal surgeries, has botched procedures that have killed two patients, paralyzed a third and severely injured a fourth by, among other things, leaving a sponge inside their body.

The precise details of what went wrong vary somewhat from case to case, but each one involves an amateurish series of mistakes and oversights that call into question Duntsch's competence.

Dr. Christohper Duntsch
Duntsch, according to the TMB's order, routinely misdiagnosed patients, used the wrong procedures and equipment, and failed to order needed neuro-imaging tests. When things went wrong, Duntsch either didn't realize -- he overlooked an obvious spinal hemorrhage during a procedure, with fatal consequences -- or he made it worse by when he tried to fix things using the wrong procedures. Almost all suffered excessive blood loss.

Duntsch doesn't seem to have always been such a terrible doctor. He graduated from a reputable medical school (the University of Tennessee) and, in the decade since, has never been disciplined, either in Texas or Tennessee. The TMB doesn't go into great detail about how he flew off the rails so spectacularly, but it does declare him "unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety due to impairment from drugs or alcohol."

Here's the full order:

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This is the doctor that operated on my sister Kellie Martin, pictured in the news story, at Baylor Plano March 12, 2012. She was not the first to suffer serious injuries at Baylor Plano but he was still allowed to operate on her, resulting in her death. As I look at these photos of Dr. Duntsch from Facebook it appears that he has hit rock bottom no longer even resembling a surgeon. I found some poems that he self-published on the internet. He has published some as recently as 13 days ago. As he writes about lost youth, lost love, and moonbeams so eloquently I wonder does he ever think about the pain he has caused? Why not write about the children that will marry without their mother present, spouses that will struggle daily to put one foot in front of another without their soul mates, elderly parents that face the pain of losing a child, siblings that will live each day without their best friend to talk to, holidays, birthdays, grandchildren that will never know their grandparents. The pain is “ to the moon and back”…so why not write about that if he has any remorse?

Montemalone topcommenter

The TMB doesn't go into great detail about how he flew off the rails so spectacularly, but it does declare him "unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety due to impairment from drugs or alcohol."

I believe they go into great detail. Just read the last 5 words.


Some of the pro-life folks have opined that medical/surgical procedures should be consigned to hospitals and ASCs for "the patient's safety."  Obviously, nothing bad ever happens in hospitals ...

RTGolden1 topcommenter

@animas Only....... this wasn't taking place in a hospital, but in a stand-alone clinic.  It may have been an ASC, but not a hospital.


BTW-the order says that the respondednt lists his primary specialty as "Psychiatry"--how does he come by hospital Neurosurgery credentials?


@RTGolden1 @animas See Pt 3 G. Page 3  "hospital staff was unable to reach Respondent for an hour and one half".  All patients cited were "admitted"--which would not occur in a clinic and on "June 17 2013, Respondent( lost sic)privileges at University General Hospital Dallas"Page 4.  Neurosurgery procedures do not generally happen in clinics, to my knowledge.

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