Dr. Death (2021) s01e01 Episode Script


I had back pain for years.
Broke my back. Motorcycle accident.
- Light back pain.
- Lower back pain.
Neck pain.
Pain in the neck and a numb pinky.
Numbness, tingling in my finger.
Back pain.
I trusted that he'd do the right thing.
He told us he was gonna fix it.
That's all we needed to know.
A nightmare.
I woke up in a nightmare.
They were pumping me full of blood
- I was sore.
- and I didn't know why.
- I hurt.
- Every bone hurt.
- I was worse.
- I couldn't move.
- I was crying.
- And the pain.
- I woke with a limp.
- I had never felt pain like that before.
The first thing that
went through my mind
And no one could tell me
what was wrong with me.
- "What has he done to me?"
- I miss her.
I can't play with my
children like I used to.
She was a very
I have a feeding tube
attached to me with a bag.
very good woman.
I learned ways to control the pain.
That's all I can say.
I wish I could go back to the days
before I met Christopher Duntsch.
- Here you go.
- Great.
- You missed one.
- What?
Informed consent. Have to sign that.
- Oh, I'm sorry.
- No problem.
Just fill out the top
name, age, address,
and everything here, and then
review all the statements,
and sign and date at the bottom.
- Madeline Beyer.
- Yeah, right here.
You can finish that in exam room.
Oh, okay.
My daughter is parking, and
I'll let her know they took you back.
- She can come?
- Yes.
Thank you.
You're gonna take everything off
and get into the gown, Ms. Beyer.
- Open on the back side.
- Okay.
Have you had any
medications this morning?
- No.
- Anything to eat or drink
since 8:00 p.m. last night, Ms. Beyer?
And it's Beyer, like the animal.
Everyone makes that mistake.
Dr. Duntsch will have you in
and out before you know it.
Here we are on Madeline Beyer.
Mrs. Beyer had an L5-S1 posterior fusion
performed by Dr. Christopher Duntsch
this past Wednesday.
Patient awoke reporting intensified
pain and limited mobility.
Today, we're performing
the revision surgery.
This whole midline structure
has been severed
from the underlying spine.
It's just flopping in here.
It provides no protective
benefit to the nerves.
I just grabbed it.
Underneath that, you can
see fragments of bone
piercing the nerves.
Also, the spinous process,
I'll be removing this.
I just grabbed the ligament,
and it's exposed the dura,
which is leaking spinal fluid.
I do see down here more bone.
It looks like putty,
just smashed in there.
What did he do to her?
Mrs. Beyer?
How are you feeling?
I hurt a lot.
Well, that's to be expected.
Is the pain better or worse than before?
You don't have to answer that right now.
No, no, no, no.
Better. It's better.
Okay, well, we'll get the pain
management team up here
and increase your meds.
How does that sound?
- Mm-hmm.
- Now, would you do me a favor,
please, and
press against my hand?
Excellent. Now pull.
Toes toward your nose.
Very good. And now the left against.
Can you push against?
I can't move it.
Well, we'll run some tests,
see what might be amiss.
For now, sleep, okay?
- Dr. Henderson.
- Yes?
I don't want him near me,
not ever again.
You keep Dr. Duntsch away.

Ha, come on. It's less
douchey than a BMW.
- I drive a CR-V.
- Oh, nothing wrong with that.
You know, Hondas, they go forever.
Cheap parts, good resale.
Honestly, the only
reason I bring it up
- can you turn up the suction?
- Suction.
You ever see that Will Ferrell skit?
Hee-hee-hee, I love Will Ferrell.
The only reason I bring it up
- bipolara.
- Bipolara.
Jag is a super trooper magnet.
One time I get called in for an
aortic aneurysm doing a buck.
- Peddle up 35, 40.
- Yes, Doctor.
Buck ten, trooper throws on his lights,
chases me right up to the ER.
He follows me into the scrub room.
He says he's gonna arrest me
for evading the police. [LAUGHS]
I tell him, go ahead, but
he's gonna have to wait.
Throw open the doors of the OR
just as they're splitting the patient.
[LAUGHS] Fuck, his face.
Could not have been better timing.
I think it was the rib cracking
that got me out of the ticket.
Good morning, Dr. Kirby.
Deleone, the grand poobah herself.
To what do we owe the pressure?
I mean, pleasure?
What is that about the
lowest form of wit?
- I believe it's brevity.
- Mm, if only.
What can I do for you?
Ooh, got a bleeder cauterize.
What do you know about Dr. Duntsch?
"Doctor" is a strong word.
Okay, good. Thanks.
You worked with him at
Baylor Plano, right?
One time only engagement.
I'm gonna retract here.
'Bout six months ago, total shit show.
Can I get more light?
Exactly what I was hoping
you weren't gonna say.
Tell me you didn't hire him.
Why wouldn't I? Great résumé.
Baylor Plano sent him
along with a clean letter.
No areas of concern.
You gotta loop me into
these things, Jill.
I got more credentials in
this town than Tony Romo.
Debakey. I could have told
you the guy was a hack.
What did he do?
What did he do?
Josh, you got a minute?
Yes, sir. Please sit.
- How's the chowder?
- July in Texas.
Well, we all have to live with
our choices in life, right?
You here to talk about my soup
or Dr. Duntsch, sir?
Am I that obvious?
I was listening to you
in there, in the OR.
Look as bad inside Mrs. Beyer
as it sounded on the outside?
Duntsch's surgery on Madeline Beyer,
you were the circulating nurse, right?
What was that like?
It was like he knew what
he was supposed to do, and
He did the exact opposite?
Everyone in that room could
have done better than him, sir.
I tried.
I mean, it isn't worth shit.
I tried to help Dr. Duntsch in there.
Even tried to stop him, but
It wasn't your job to stop him.
Tell that to Mrs. Beyer.
Tell that to Dorothy Burke.
Hey, Bob.
- Dr. Kirby.
- Danke.
I have an MRI that I have to get to
Jill Deleone stopped by,
told me you came across some
of Christopher Duntsch's
splatter painting.
"Splatter painting"?
You did a revision surgery
on Madeline Beyer.
How'd it go?
Mrs. Beyer is not your patient,
so I won't be speaking with you about
Oh, fucking HIPAA.
Well, why don't you tell
me exactly what it is
you're looking for, Dr. Kirby?
January, I'm at Baylor.
No other access surgeons are available.
I get asked to scrub in.
It was a last-minute favor.
Turns out, happenstance,
it's my pool guy.
L5-S1 fusion.
Now, on a scale of one-to-one,
one being easy,
the other one being easy,
how difficult is that?
Let's go with one.
Fucking caveman could do it, am I right?
I got the patient opened up,
disc sitting right there,
shiny red bike under the
tree, Christmas morning,
just waiting to be plucked
out and the vice plopped in.
And what would you do?
What would you ask for?
I'm decomposing here, Dr. Kirby.
People tell me I have the
flair for the melodrama.
- I can't imagine why.
- I like to call it passion.
- What would you ask for?
- A scalpel.
Fucking right, you would!
Everybody would!
This yutz asked for a
Double-Action Rongeur.
Did he get the disc out?
With a great deal of
gratuitous elbow grease.
- Did he get the device in?
- Off midline.
- How far off?
- Is there any measurement devised
by the human hand that
would make it all right?
Duntsch almost killed my pool guy.
Could it have been human error?
Sure. Yeah, why not?
But after that case in January,
Duntsch had a bunch more,
which were all, shall we
say, less than successful?
But two of them were
borderline monstrous.
One is sipping through a straw
for the rest of his life,
The other, back in March,
dies on his table
after he slices through
her vertebral artery.
Duntsch performed surgeries
this past Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
here at Dallas Medical.
Wednesday, the patient was Madeline
Beyer. You know about that.
Tuesday, the patient's
name was Dorothy Burke.
She was in here for a cervical fusion,
and he sliced through
her vertebral artery.
- Get the fuck outta here.
- She's on life support.
Duntsch has two surgeries
scheduled first thing next week.
We're gonna sit here chatting?
Or we're gonna do something about it?

Hear wedding bells ring ♪
And I think of you ♪
Hummingbirds sing ♪
And I think of you ♪
So far away from me ♪
What can I do? ♪
Baby, I am all alone ♪
And blue ♪
Mrs. Keller!
Today's the big day. How you feeling?
- Hungry.
Well, if it makes you feel any better,
I haven't eaten yet either.
- How's business?
- Booming.
No surprise there.
- Yeah, I got plans for two new off
- "I have plans."
ESL teachers just can't let that slide,
- can they?
- Mm-mm.
I have plans for two new offices
opening by the end of the year.
- You don't say.
- Yeah.
Expanding faster than
I ever could imagine.
Just trying to figure
it all out, really.
- Moving up in the world.
Thank you.
Theresa, Melanie, this
is Mr. and Mrs. Keller.
- Pleasure.
- Hi.
- Where's Dr. Morgan?
- Nearer pastures.
The commute was getting to her.
- She's from McKinney, right?
- She is.
That's not 20 minutes from here.
Are you saying she
didn't like me anymore?
Hardly possible.
Oh, that's too bad. She was lovely.
Still is, I imagine. Come on back.
You're operating at the
Dallas Medical Center now?
That's right. You're my first case.
What happened to Baylor Plano?
Great facilities there.
You know, it is a very pretty building.
On the outside.
I let my privileges lapse there,
and I could go back
any time I want, but
Honestly, I just felt boxed in there.
They're inefficient.
They're living in the past,
and I am the future.
It's hard to be the future
in a place with no vision.
I don't suppose I could've
been miraculously healed
these past three months, could I?
Disc is still very much herniated.
Still pushing on the L5.
In fact, unsurprisingly,
it is even more compressed.
So here's what we're gonna do:
we're gonna put you on your side,
make a little incision,
and we'll cut away a
little bit of the bone,
make a window, so we can
see down into the nerves,
push those to the side,
and then that disc is
just gonna [POP]
pop out like a pimple.
Not the most delicate
way to put it, I know,
but it makes the point.
I am going to fix you.
I know you will.
How in Pete's name did that happen?
Oh, well
let's just say my dancing days are done.
I want to tell you both
how much I appreciate
you sticking with me as
I move down from Baylor.
There's a lot of options out there.
I don't change horses
midstream, Christopher.
And like you said from the start,
you're the best surgeon out there.
How could I not?
You are a keeper, Mrs. Keller.
You holding up since last time?
Last time?
Back in March, Rose was all hooked up,
ready to go, and
a patient you lost that day.
I I didn't lose anyone.
- I thought they died
- Charlie, you're being a bore.
I think trying to find
out how a surgeon
It's all right, Mrs. Keller.
Mr. Keller's right to ask.
She did die.
She had an allergic reaction
to the anesthesia,
and I did everything I
could to save her, but
well, the anesthesiologist
made a mistake.
Oh, my. Oh, poor thing.
Yet another reason I chose
to move on from Baylor.
I found that their staff
was underperforming.
I hope they don't have a job anymore.
Well, we're all human.
We all make mistakes.
It's just that, in this line of work,
the consequences of those mistakes
are simply more consequential.
But not you.
No mistakes.
- No, ma'am, not me.
Well, I will see you
both at Dallas Medical.
I'll have you up and doing
cartwheels in no time.
You know, you ever see Dr. Morgan,
you tell her we send our best.

12 dead.
Fucked up world we live in,
when a movie theater
becomes a gun range.
Olympic torch arrived
in London this weekend.
8,000 people carried it 8,000 miles.
That's pretty encouraging, isn't it?
Now a whole bunch of
'em are profiteering.
They're selling their torches online
for, like, thousands of dollars.
People, man. [SIGHS]
You need to stop reading the news.
- It's bad for you.
- Ha.
- What's the word, Mrs. Keller?
- Ready to go.
First thing you're gonna do
when you're out of here, ma'am?
Walk into school without
tears in my eyes.
Shoot for the stars, hit
the moon, right, ma'am?
I leave myself in God's
and Dr. Duntsch's hands.
Stiff competition.
[SLOWLY] Dr. Duntsch.
I'm Josh Baker.
I'll be your circulating nurse, sir.
You come from Baylor?
That's right.

Got a hole in your scrubs, sir.
You're the circulating nurse, you said.
Yes, sir.
Shouldn't you be prepping my OR?
Absolutely, sir.
Mrs. Keller, I'll see
you on the other side.
Now, let's get you up and
doing those cartwheels.

Morning. I'm Dr. Christopher Duntsch.
Today, we're gonna be
operating on Rose Keller,
age 72.
The patient presented
with severe back pain
diagnosed as a herniated disc.
We will be performing a
lateral lumbar fusion.
We're gonna open a
window between the ribs
and the iliac crest,
make a small incision
into the flank muscles.
The peritoneum will be
reflected anteriorly
to expose the psoas.
Once in, we will remove the L4-5 disc
and replace it with a 12
by 50 by 10-degree cage.
As I hope you all know,
it is important we are in and out
with as little fanfare as possible.
So mouths shut, ears open.
Let's begin.
How much longer?

The family was expecting an update, sir.
Two hours ago.
Have them close her up.
- Morning, ma'am.
- Afternoon, Josh.
Hey, Josh, how did it go this morning?
How did what go, ma'am?
Rose Keller's surgery with Dr. Duntsch.
[QUICKLY] Oh. I think it went okay.
You "think" okay?
No, I don't mean that.
Seems like it went well.
Just took a little longer
than usual, you know?
What's a little longer?
About four hours.
Four hours for a lateral fusion?
First day at a new hospital,
new system.
My guess is he was crossing
T's, dotting I's, ma'am.
Is now a good time?
You pay the bills, Ms. Deleone.
What are you reading?
Working on a cure for glioblastoma.
Ooh, is that all?
I've been studying it since med school.
Trying to find a new
way in with stem cells.
That's admirable, ambitious.
Well, I don't think it's as complicated
as everybody makes it out to be.
You don't think utilizing stem cells
to cure one of the deadliest
forms of cancer is complicated?
Quite self-assured, are we?
Are you not?
I'm a realist.
Well, you gotta believe
you can beat death.
Otherwise, what's the
point of doing what we do?
- How was surgery?
- Perfect.
Perfect? Excellent.
I heard it went a little long.
You heard?
Mm-hmm. I did.
A little long?
Do you mind if I ask who
you heard that from?
Oh, there's no need to
name names, Dr. Duntsch
I'm just not used to people
talking shit about me.
No one's talking shit about you.
Unless, of course, it's to my
face, which I encourage.
As the chief executive here
It was that suck-ass
circulating nurse, wasn't it?
I asked how they thought
the procedure went,
and they reported that
it went a little long.
I hope that you and I are going to have
- a long working relationship, Jill.
- Me too
As I line your pockets
with millions of dollars
- Not my pockets
- that you will come to trust me.
If I didn't trust you,
I wouldn't have hired you.
It went exactly as long
as it was supposed to
in order to get it done right.
So there were no complications?
I don't have complications.
Every doctor has complications.
Not me.
Okay, then.
It's good to have you aboard.
We should grab a bite sometime.
- Yeah.
- I'll bore you with my biography.
I'd like that.
- Oh, do me a favor?
- Of course.
Make sure that door shuts
behind you on the way out.


Are you the one going under the knife?
Okay, so let's just buck up,
or I'm gonna make you wait in the car.
- Dr. Duntsch!
- Yes?
I'm Earl
Dorothy Burke's husband, Earl.
So how we looking?
Well, I'm running a little behind
but other than that, good.
So you feel good about it?
What's on your mind, Earl?
I, uh
I almost turned around this morning.
I almost took Dorothy home.
And why would you do that?
- I just had this feeling that
- I'm a surgeon, Earl.
This is what I do.
I attended one of the top
universities in the nation.
And granted, it's no Harvard,
but fuck Harvard, am I right?
I got an MD and a PhD
in molecular biology.
I did my residency at the
University of Tennessee,
where I studied general
surgery for a year
and neurosurgery for five.
I run two successful labs.
I've raised millions
of dollars in grants.
And I can go on and give you all
of my citations and awards
You don't need to do that.
I just want to remind
you that your wife of
how long have you guys been together?
46 years.
Your wife of 46 years
is prepped and ready
on my table right now.
And look, some people might say
that what I just did was crass,
but the way I see it,
you're gonna go back
into that waiting room,
and you're not just gonna
flip through your "People,"
or "Us Weekly," or "Field and Stream."
You're gonna read it, because you know
that I am gonna grant her a second life.

Need more sponges.
There's too much blood in the field.
I can't see anything. More suction.
- Suction.
[WHISPERS] This isn't right.
No, it isn't. We gotta
run the stat H and H.
You need to say something.
Oh, shit.
Should we start the cell saver, Doctor?
Focus on your job.
There's a lot of bleeding, Doctor.
We should get an A-line kit,
14-gauge IV, blood warmer.
Maybe give ICU a heads-up?
We gotta get this under control, Doctor.
You mean, me.
I need to get this under control.
Yes, Doctor, you need to
get this under control.
Perhaps, we bring in vascular.
What's vascular gonna do
when you can't get the blood
pressure under control?
This is not an issue
with the blood pressure.
Well, why don't we
start there, shall we?
I see the disc. Retract.
I've got it.
What are you doing here?
You called?
You didn't have to come right away.
It sounded like you needed me, Chris.
I just needed to talk to my dad.
It's no emergency. No big deal.
So I suppose I should just turn around
- and go back to Colorado then?
- No, no, no.
No. Come on. Come on in.
Because I used to work for a Russian.
You know better than that, Chris.
I don't think he cares
if you have a drink.
Particularly given
his affinity for wine.
Oh, that's cute.
Come on, Dad. Don't be like that.
I'm kidding!
So how's the physical therapy
business treating you?
That's not why I'm here, Chris,
in the middle of the night,
to talk small talk.
- Dad, for Christ's sake.
- Watch your mouth, please.
For heck's sake, Dad. Is that better?
Physical therapy's going well.
And your mother's well,
and your brothers are well,
and the roof needs to be replaced,
and the dog's getting old.
He's got a bit of a limp, okay?
Now what's going on? You need money?
- What? No.
- Okay, so what's happening?
Nothing. I shouldn't have called.
No, I'm glad you did.
- Of course, you should have called.
- Look, Dad, I got this, okay?
I'm the top of the fucking food chain.
- You're top of what?
- Top of the world.
Top of the game, top of the morning,
top of whatever the fuck it is
I'm supposed to be the top of.
- Who are you talking to?
- You.
- Who are you showing off for?
- I'm not showing off.
It sounds like you're
showing off, Chris.
I'm just saying that
tomorrow is another day
to prove how fucking good I am.
That ego.
- It's confidence.
- It's ego.
Your mother instilled it in you.
It's confidence, okay?
And I thought that's what
parents were supposed to do.
- When did that become a sin?
- Pride is a sin.
- To you.
- You remember the story
of Nebuchadnezzer, right?
The king of Babylon?
He was the most powerful king
in the most powerful nation on Earth,
but he was prideful.
He boasted
Well, good thing there is no god.
Pride comes before
the fall, Christopher.
Okay. [GROANS]
Where are you going?
Wait a minute.
- Let's sit down and talk, okay?
- The pillows and blankets
are in the hall closet,
and feel free to make yourself
- whatever you like for breakfast.
- Wait a minute.
How's Wendy doing?
Does she need anything?
Oh, she's great.
And what about Mason?
How's my grandson doing?
Thanks for coming, Dad.
Where are you going?

Get the fuck off my street!
Kim. Kim.
I know you asked for some space
I court-ordered space!
Kim, the clinic needs you.
I need you.
- I'm done here.
- Kim. No, come on!
You don't understand. I am
surrounded by fucking idiots.
My staff, the hospitals
they nearly lost a patient today.
They nearly fucking killed her!
And, of course, I'm the
one left holding the shit
because of some stupid
fucking X-ray tech.
It's just unbelievable.
You're still operating?
Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?
After what you did.
What I did?
To your patients.
- To Jerry
- Don't you dare!
You ought to be ashamed of yourself
for walking out on your patients,
your responsibilities.
This is as much on you as it is on me
more, because I didn't abandon them.
The worst part about all this is
you don't have to go under your knife
or into your bed to get fucked by you.
Come back here again,
and you're going to jail.
This is Josh.
What do you mean?
Did you call Dr. Duntsch?

Dr. Duntsch!
Dr. Duntsch!
Dorothy Burke.
She's unresponsive, can't palpitate.
Blood pressure's in the basement.
Nurses have been trying
to reach you all morning.
[SIGHS] Shit.
Was it you?
- Sir?
- Cut the "sir" crap.
Were you the one
talking shit to Deleone?
- About?
- About how long it took me
to operate on Rose Keller.
And how is Mrs. Keller, by the way?
- Have you checked in on her?
- She's doing well.
- How well?
- That's not the point.
No, Nurse, that is the point.
You have no clue what
it takes to do what I do.
- Yes, sir.
- So why don't you shut your mouth
and do your fucking job?
Is my OR prepped for the
Madeline Beyer surgery?
The Madeline Beyer surgery is elective.
And she elected to do it today.
- Is my OR prepped?
- Let's push it off,
- focus on Dorothy Burke
- That's not what I asked.
- I understand what you asked.
- I don't think that you do.
It's not fully prepped, sir.
Go prep my OR.
- We're trying to make sense of it ourselves.
That's why we're calling
you, Dr. Skadden.
Well, why don't we begin
with your experience
with Dr. Duntsch in Memphis.
You're the head of
the fellowship program
- at Semmes Murphy?
- That's correct.
Were there any issues
while he was there?
What kind of issues?
- Come on, man!
- Dr. Kirby
No, no, no. I mean, come
on, performance issues.
What other kinds of issues are there?
Personality, safety,
compliance, productivity
- Performance.
- That's what I said.
Fact, Duntsch is better suited
for a slaughterhouse
than he is a surgical unit.
Would you agree?
That's most certainly not
how I'd describe Dr. Duntsch.
How would you describe him?
He was satisfactory.
His work ethic was second-to-none.
Well, Ted Bundy was a good worker too.
Dr. Kirby, please.
Do you mind if I take over from here?
I don't know what good
it's gonna do you.
Let's give it a try.
Have at it.
Sorry about that, Dr. Skadden.
We'd like to fax you a
picture of Dr. Duntsch.
- To what end?
- To ensure that the surgeon in question
is the same surgeon you know.
We're concerned that this person
stole your Duntsch's identity.
He's not my Duntsch.
Because if he's not an
imposter, he's either
- Numb-nuts.
- the most incompetent surgeon
I've ever crossed paths with
and never should have been
let out of medical school,
or he's a sociopath.
And he's doing all of this on purpose.

What's the word, Mrs. Beyer?
How is Mrs. Burke?
Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
Patient is Madeline Beyer.
We'll be performing a spinal fusion.
Dr. Henderson.
Yes, this is Dr. Skadden
calling you back.
[WHISPERING] It's Skadden.
I reviewed the photo you faxed over.
That is Dr. Christopher Duntsch.
- Did you know?
- Know?
Did you know what he was capable of?

We have just recruited a rising star.
And I am the future.
You've studied under some of
the best surgeons in the world.
I checked all his reviews online.
Everyone loves him.
What did he do to her?
He's closing in on two
dozen botched surgeries.
He keeps getting these surgical outcomes
because he's either doing it
on purpose, or he just sucks.
The question isn't why he did it.
It's how he got away with it.
You're prepared to file
a formal complaint?
You're the one who turned me
in to the Texas Medical Board.
I am.
I know you're a fraud.
You can't even keep a job.
I'm trying to get a picture
of who he is, why he is.
My patients mean everything to me.
- Was he doing it on purpose?
If we're gonna do this,
we got to be all-in.
We've got one chance
to get this indictment.
How are we gonna prove intent?
Duntsch is never gonna stop.
He's never gonna stop on his own.
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