You ruined everything for me, ”says Dr.

Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson) in a scene from “Dr.

Death “with a stony look to his best friend Jerry Summers (Dominic Burgess).

It is the height of a monstrous self-importance: Duntsch has just screwed up an operation that was supposed to relieve Summers of excruciating neck pain.

Now Summers is paraplegic.

It is not the only medical mistake that the ambitious neurosurgeon makes.

His next patient is bleeding to death on the operating table;

by this point he has already botched three more surgeries.

Efforts by two horrified colleagues to stop Duntsch's slaughter are repeatedly caught in the undergrowth of the Texan health system.

Only with the help of an ambitious young public prosecutor do they manage to bring the man to court.

Gross medical mishaps

If you get queasy when thinking about the operating room, you should avoid this series. "Dr. Death “is based on a true story and, despite its lurid title, orientates itself exactly on the facts. Christopher Duntsch is said to have injured at least thirty-three patients and killed two negligently in unsuccessful interventions in the state of Texas between 2011 and 2013. His license was only withdrawn in 2013; In 2015 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The series is partly a psychogram of a man whose ambition is disproportionate to his abilities, and partly a glimpse into a health system in which figures like Duntsch can operate unhindered because profit and self-interest are at the forefront of all considerations.

Until 2003, patients in Texas were protected from medical malpractice by a number of laws.

But then these regulations were gradually dismantled, so that the doctors ultimately enjoyed better protection than their patients.

Medical malpractice reparations capped at $ 250,000;

in order to sue a clinic, a patient had to prove that the hospital acted with intent, that is, knew of a risk and ignored it.

Impeccable recommendations

In this environment it was evidently easy for Duntsch to evade the consequences of his gross medical mishaps. He was a master at blaming others for his mistakes: anesthesiologists, operating room nurses, the patients themselves. And the Texas Medical Board, the supervisory body for medical approvals, refused to intervene without overwhelming evidence. Meanwhile, the clinics where he worked were primarily interested in their own reputation - and in the lucrative "star surgeon" who Duntsch sold himself as. He blinded his patients and employers with his papers. In addition to being a licensed neurosurgeon, he claimed to have a PhD in microbiology (which media reports questioned).

When things got tough, Duntsch always changed jobs - with impeccable recommendations.

"His references are the foundation of his bullshit," says surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater) at one point.

Kirby had assisted Duntsch in a botched operation and tried to pull Duntsch out of circulation with his colleague Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin), who performed corrective surgery and shared Kirby's dismay.

But the terrible mistakes "fell into a regulatory no man's land," as the Dallas Observer put it in a 2013 backstory.

alcohol and drugs

The eight-part series traces Duntsch's career from an over-ambitious but mediocre football player to a self-proclaimed medical genius in stem cell research and later a supposedly brilliant surgeon, and it tells the fight between Doctors Henderson and Kirby and Duntsch. Their strength comes not least from a number of actors in top form. Jackson's Duntsch is a multi-faceted type: he uses his charm precisely to evade psychological examination or to convince a skeptical patient, then again he transforms the operating room into a battlefield.

He desperately struggles for the recognition of his father (Fred Lehne), numbs his frustration with alcohol and drugs and a little later is again the supposed competence in person. Jackson leads with pleasant understatement through this man's destructive ego trip instead of stylizing him into an easily graspable monster, as is all too often the case in the true crime genre. Slater plays as the headstrong Dr. Kirby, who doesn’t mince his words, is the counterpart to Baldwin’s stoic, rule-loyal Dr. Henderson, who occasionally feels obliged to apologize for Kirby's unconventional demeanor. This is sometimes very striking, but also has a liberating effect in the course of the dark story. Grace Gummer threatens to steal the show from Jackson in a supporting role,and Anna Sophia Robb shines as easily underestimated, but tough as steel prosecutor Michelle Shugart.

The question of the motive arises, but is not answered exhaustively.

"The real question is how he got away with it," says Henderson at one point programmatically.

The horrific damage Duntsch inflicted on his patients is based on cold disdain.

In one scene, Henderson and Kirby puzzle over whether the man is simply incompetent, a boor or even a sociopath.

The series does not provide simple answers to these questions.

Unfortunately, it does not make it easy for viewers to follow the chronology of events.

The action unfolds in an almost manic multitude of time leaps, which one can soon only follow with difficulty - a superfluous trick that the production worth seeing would not have needed at all.

Dr.

Death

is on TVNow.

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