Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is going out of his way to defend four civil lawsuits against a hospital accused of allowing a “sociopathic” neurosurgeon to treat patients.
None of the suits name the state, but the Dallas Morning News reported that Abbott has asked a federal court for permission to represent Baylor Regional Medical Center of Plano in the suits related to Dr. Christopher Duntsch.
The physician practiced medicine and performed “minimally invasive” spinal procedures in the north Texas area for two years before losing his license in 2013 after the deaths of two patients and the paralysis of four others.
The suits claim Baylor put revenue ahead of patient safety by overlooking the Duntsch’s substantial substance abuse issues and doing nothing to stop him from treating patients.
The physician told the newspaper Baylor made about $65,000 profit on each procedure he performed.
Former colleagues called Duntsch a sociopath and a “clear and present danger to patients,” and one doctor compared him to a serial killer.
Another surgeon was so alarmed by Duntsch’s actions that he took away his surgical tools in the middle of an operation.
The surgeon’s roommate and closest friend says Duntsch operated on him after a night of using cocaine, and he emerged from the surgery a quadriplegic.
Duntsch has since moved to Colorado and filed for bankruptcy, rendering him essentially judgment-proof, reported RH Reality Check.
State law requires the plaintiffs to prove Baylor acted with actual intent to harm patients, but the suits claim that statute is unconstitutional.
Abbott, who is running for governor, has asked the court permission to defend the statute, although he is not required to do so.
If the law is upheld, patients would have a difficult time winning a suit against Baylor and collecting damages, and one of the plaintiffs’ attorney strongly criticized Abbott’s position.
“I think it’s absolutely insane that he has chosen to defend the hospital that enabled this … sociopathic neurosurgeon to wreak havoc on its patients,” said attorney James Girards. “I hate to think he’s doing it to pander to the medical lobby.”
[Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]