Podcast of the Week: Dr. Death

Editor's Note: If you'd like to ask Dr. Kirby, the doctor who took down Dr. Death, a question, click here.

Illustration by April Burst

This podcast is good for those who are interested in: Neurosurgery, spinal surgery, malpractice, investigative reporting, true crime, narrative storytelling, medical ethics, health policy

Typical length of episodes: About 30–45 minutes

How often a new episode comes out: The six-part series has been fully released, but updates continue to be occasionally released.

Episode topics: The podcast features physician and patient stories, and at the center of it all is Christopher Duntsch, who claimed to be a top spinal surgeon in Dallas, TX. He operated on 33 patients, and most of these surgeries ended in tragedy. Two surgeons, Drs. Robert Henderson and Randall Kirby, led the efforts to stop him. The podcast explores how the medical system allowed Dr. Duntsch to slip through the cracks and continue to harm so many patients.

Sample episode — “Three Days in Dallas”: The inaugural episode follows Dr. Duntsch’s first week at Dallas Medical Center in July 2012, during which he botched three spinal surgeries. He cut open a patient’s vertebral artery during the first surgery, causing her to suffer a massive stroke and loss of consciousness the next day. Dr. Duntsch rendered another patient nearly immobile when he inserted hardware into soft tissue that was supposed to fuse two vertebrae and completely amputated a spinal nerve root.

The damage is so extensive that the hospital brings in veteran spinal surgeon Dr. Robert Henderson for a second opinion, who questions whether Dr. Duntch is an imposter.

Tidbit about the show: The podcast is produced by the Wondery Network, the creators of popular true crime podcast Dirty John.

About the host: The story is reported by Laura Beil, an independent journalist with over 20 years of experience in health and science writing.

Listen via: iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn

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