Dr. Death (2021) s01e03 Episode Script

Dock Ellis

God rest you, merry gentlemen ♪
Let nothing you dismay ♪
For Jesus Christ, our savior ♪
- Was born upon this day ♪
To save us all from Satan's power ♪
When we were gone astray ♪
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy ♪
Comfort and joy ♪
It is tidings of comfort and joy ♪
Happy holidays, Mrs. Johnson.
Or are you more of a
"Merry Christmas" gal?
I need to make sure you're getting
the right blend of tequila.
My name is Dr. Randall Kirby.
I'm here because your doctor
with the warm and fuzzy bedside
manner couldn't make it.
Your husband, Tom, tells me
that you're a fighter, so
if it's okay with you,
I'm just gonna let her rip.
You came in for a cervical
surgery with Dr. Duntsch
a few days ago to remove a disc.
Do you remember that?
Do you remember going home,
telling your husband that
you couldn't swallow,
and then you got a fever?
Well, you called Dr. Duntsch,
who told you that everything was normal
and that your fever was from the flu.
Then he stopped taking your calls.
Your fever wasn't from the flu.
It was from an infection
moving towards your heart.
Now, we've had that PICC
line pumping antibiotics
into your superior vena
cava since you got here.
You've turned a corner,
but now we need to deal
with the other issues from
Dr. Duntsch's surgery.
That crazy straw coming out of your nose
is draining stomach acid
from a hole Duntsch
cut in your esophagus.
That's why you couldn't swallow.
As for the surgery Duntsch
was supposed to perform,
he failed to remove the disc.
He left it lodged in your spine.
The hardware he was supposed to attach
scattered in there like a
bag of leftover screws
from an IKEA bookshelf.
He sliced through a nerve
to your vocal cord.
We can't fix that.

This never should have happened.

I apologize to you and to your family.
I promise I will make sure this
never happens to anyone else.
Um, Tom wanted me to discuss
a family matter with you.
Your children are in
town for the holidays,
and you don't want them to visit.
He's hoping that you would
change your mind about that.

I'll fend them off if
you provide the stick.
I'm so sorry.

Hey, thanks for coming.
It's, uh, nice to show a united
front with these jackasses.
- Dr. Kirby.
- Dr. Lockett.
He's the CEO here.
This is Dr. Robert Henderson.
He's my crime-fighting partner in crime.
Yeah, uh
would you follow me, please?
Duntsch never operates here again.
Well, I guess we can
call it a night, then.
No harm, no foul.
How did you come to hire him?
We needed a neurosurgeon on staff
and performed all due diligence.
You just missed that teeny-tiny detail
about the two dead
bodies at Dallas Medical
and Baylor-Plano, but who's counting?
We inquired with the
Texas Medical Board.
We checked the National
Practitioners Data Bank
to see if he was ever suspended.
- He wasn't, no complaints.
So neither Baylor-Plano nor
Dallas Medical reported him?
No. Look, had we known, we
never would have hired him,
plain and simple. [CHUCKLES]
He even came with a
clean letter from Baylor.

"All investigations with respect
to any areas of concern
"regarding Christopher D. Duntsch,
M.D. have been closed.
"As of this date, there
have been no summary
"or administrative restrictions
or suspensions
"of Dr. Duntsch's medical
staff membership
"or clinical privileges
"during the time he has practiced
at Baylor Medical Center at Plano."
Dr. Henderson, tell me
you're in my position.
What would you have done?
They warned 'em
this nurse, Preston's her name,
she and some other somebody.
- Who?
- I don't know.
A scrub tech. It doesn't matter.
They warned the administration
about Duntsch.
They looked him up on the Internet.
They found a ton of crap about him.
I'm not talking good crap.
- I'm talking he's a crappy surgeon.
- I get it.
Here's the kicker. When
they went to show them
what was on the Internet,
it was all gone.
Everything negative about
him, completely wiped way.
Well, how does somebody do that?
I don't know hacking's not
really my area of expertise.
The point is they warned
them, and they blew it off.
Due diligence.
We're up against a
citadel of bullshit here.
Most ass-covering
In fact, I should use
this to wipe my ass.
- BOTH: Written by lawyers.
- Yeah.
Are we completing each
other's sentences now?
I'm going to see Amy
Piel over at Baylor.
- You give me a ride?
- Jag's right this way.


They're gonna grant me
privileges to operate.
They're gonna grant,
or they have granted?
[SIGHS] They are going
to grant me privileges
when they see my roster of patients.
Don't It's [SCOFFS]
It's not a big deal, Wendy.
I have a ton of patients.
All I got to do is make a couple calls.
Well, that place looks
like a Port-a-Potty.
Not like Baylor.
- Fuck Baylor.
- Yeah, fuck Baylor.
Fuck Dallas Medical.
Fuck whatever that last one was,
that Legacy Frisco place you
were at for, like, two weeks.
It's been quite the fucking year.
Can you just drive me
to my clinic, please?
- Where does it end, Chris?
- Oh, my God.
Wendy, I'm handling it, okay?
You left me,
- remember that?
- I don't feel sorry for you.
Why don't you go fuck your nurse again?
Maybe she'll make you feel better.
I'm driving your sorry ass around,
not because I trust you or
because I'm here for you
but because I can't let you
mess things up for him.

Can I come by this weekend?
Why don't you make a call
to your roster of patients?
Then we'll talk.

It's from my dad.


- Mrs. Demmings.
How's that Scheuermann's
kyphosis coming along?
Is the tingling in your
legs pretty consistent?
I can't stand long enough
to hold my grandbabies now.
And it started in your teens?
Had no pain until two years ago.
The problem is these two
vertebrae right here
T7 and T8.
- The ones sticking out.
- Exactly right.
It's actually the discs in between them.
Spinal discs are like
natural shock absorbers,
and when they're healthy,
they kind of have the
consistency of rubber.
But when they get diseased, they harden,
and these two are
pushing those vertebrae
right into your spinal cord.
Every doctor I see said
there's nothing they can do.
Well, you haven't seen me yet.
What are you saying?
Well, your preexisting
kyphosis is an issue,
- but there are new ways
- Surgery.
It's minimally invasive.
A thoracoscopic anterior spinal fusion.
We make a small incision,
about the size of a dime.
We go in there and
pull out the bad discs,
and then we fuse the vertebrae
together with a plate.
And that's it.
One surgery?
In and out in about two hours.
You wake up no pain, no tingling,
and you're about a good inch taller.
It it straightens out
the curvature of the spine.
So the bad news is, you're
gonna have to bend down
a little bit lower to pick
up those grandbabies.
Can I have a word with you?

I get that you're the
golden boy around here,
but you're a resident.
These are not your patients, yet.
I'm just presenting her her options.
You gave her a fantasy.
With her kyphosis,
she's not a candidate.
Raising her hopes is
unethical and cruel.
I spent all night researching this.
You diagnosed her off of Google?
Just look at it.
It's a case from NYU worse than hers.
I can show you how to do it.
Just look. Look, all anterior
decompressing arthrodesis.
- See the end plate?
- Mm-hmm.
See the retractor? You see the angle?

When the presenting symptoms are pain,
decreased mobility, headaches,
and speech dysphasia,
what would your differential
diagnosis include?
Cervical stenosis?
Are you asking or stating?
Either way, it's incorrect.
Eventually you'll want to decide
if you're Semmes-Murphey fellows
or Semmes-Murphey dropouts.
- Dr. Skadden? Excuse me.
- Christopher, yes.
- Uh, um, I was
- Wondering if I'd read your proposal
on obtaining and
culturing disc stem cells?
Eliminates the need for extraction.
Tons of potential.
I'd love to read more,
once you've fleshed out
the research you cited.
Of course. Yes, sir.
Thank you, Dr. Skadden.
Chiari malformation.
Speech dysphasia.
It's likely related to pressure
on the cerebellum.
That would be my diagnosis.
I'd really like to be considered
- for your fellowship program, sir.
If and when the time
is right, Christopher.

Kayla, Kayla, hey, I got great news.
Skadden read my proposal.
- Where are you going?
- Don't worry about it.
Wait, are you leaving?
Don't play fucking dumb
with me, Christopher.
Oxy, Adderall it's like
a C-V-fucking-S in there,
and your name's all over it.
- The scrips?
- Scrips.
They're for friends.
They're all friends in
there. It's no big deal.
Okay, well, enjoy your friends,
and whatever's left of your career,
you stupid son of a bitch.

Oh, this man's a hero.
Partied us under the table last night,
then did his rounds,
saving lives like
What the fuck happened with Kayla?
Kayla's cool.
Give her the night, she'll calm down.
And if she does dump your
dumb face, I'll talk to her,
take care of everything, like always.
You'd lose your big, ugly head
if I didn't tighten the screws
every morning, wouldn't you?
I'm the one with the big, ugly head?
Duntsch on the offensive.
Trying to reverse Summers
with a Granby roll.
But Summers dominates.
Oh, he dominates. He dominates so hard.
Uncle! Uncle, uncle! [GROANS]

Hey, Skadden said he'd
take a look at that.
You just got to come on down,
and we'll do some imaging.
Get you fixed up.

I got to work.

Have you seen my LSD blotter?
How many hits did you take?
Oh, I must be tripping hard, bro.
The letters are all squiggly and shit.
- No, it's Cyrillic.
- It's psychedelic.
Oh, stem cells.
Is this for your PhD, Dr. Doctor?
"Glioblastoma's the most prevalent
malignant brain tumor."
That's harsh.
The glioblastoma stem is so dominant
that it takes normal cells,
and it changes them into cancer cells.
It dominates. It dominates hard.
And everybody's trying to figure
out how to stop glioblastoma.
But what if
you could just program it
to make healthy cells?
Then it it wouldn't
be cancer anymore.
Exactly right.
It can be whatever you want.
A cell that takes over another cell
to make something good.
A molecular biological Granby roll.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Stem cells you inject directly
into a diseased disc,
making a brand-new healthy baby spine.
- Preach.
- 50% of all spinal surgeries
are to repair diseased discs.
- We're talking about a startup.
- You're Dock Ellis.
You're pitching a no-hitter.
You're crushing it.
[SOFTLY] I can be your guinea pig.
- What?
- Inject that shit into my neck,
so I can grow a new
baby neck with no pain.
Pain's a pain, bro.

That could be your slogan.










- Bob.
- Hello.
- What a surprise.
- Hey, Amy.
Afternoon, Randy.
So how can I help you?
- Christopher Duntsch.
- Oh, boy.
Well, that about sums it up.
He operated on a patient at
Legacy Frisco a few days ago.
He left a hole in her esophagus,
sliced through her vocal cord.
We parted ways with Dr.
Duntsch almost a year ago.
Well, what can you tell
us about this reference
that you wrote for Dr. Duntsch?
I didn't write anything.
Well, whatever law firm
you paid to write
And it isn't a reference letter.
It's a letter stating there
were no restrictions
or suspensions of his privileges.
But it implies that there's
nothing in this record
to preclude him from
working at other hospitals.
He he maimed people here.
He killed Shelley Brennan
by drilling through
her vertebral artery.
He also did that to another
patient at Dallas Medical.
Shouldn't that have precluded him
from employment at other hospitals?
I have to be careful about
what I say right now.
- Whoa.
I feel like I'm in the fucking
Twilight Zone here,
like I'm staring at the
face of a coverup.
That's offensive.
Oh, well, I'll make sure to pass on
how offended you are
to his other victims.
Facts were disputed in
some of his surgeries here.
Surgeries? Yeah, I saw one of
his "surgeries" here firsthand.
And yet somehow, Dr. Kirby,
I didn't receive your complaint.
Our letter for Dr. Duntsch
is our fair and honest
appraisal of his standing
- at this institution.
- Was Duntsch ever suspended?
Your letter indicates that
he was under investigation,
and since it's your policy
to suspend any doctor
under investigation,
I assume that you followed
through with your policy.
Yes, you're correct. We did.
As I recall, it was 21 days.
[CHUCKLES] Well, that's convenient.
Excuse me?
National Practitioner Data Bank.
- That thing established by Congress
- I know.
to warn the public and other
hospitals about bad doctors.
- I know.
- You only have to report
the ones that are suspended
for 30 days or more.
How come you didn't report Duntsch
to the Texas Medical Board?
I think we're done here.
Can I ask you a personal question?
Would you let Duntsch operate on you?

Lies of omission do not
make this institution
any less complicit, Ms. Piel.
Nobody here is gonna help us.
I'm not sure what kind of
help we're looking for.
Come on, we can be sitting in
Skadden's office in a few hours.
- We spoke to him already.
- I know.
- He says he doesn't know anything.
- I know!
Come on, waste some time with me.
Maybe we'll find out U.T.
turned out a fraud.

Hi, everybody. So sorry I'm late.
Katya, Dr. Duntsch. Ilya, Dr. Duntsch.
Welcome to DiscGenics.
Thank you all so much for coming.
That's for you.
That's for you. For you, sir.
And do you mind passing those around?
I just need some vitamin C.
Be right back.
Sorry about that.
Now, let me tell you
why you're all here.
I'm hoping that you will
continue to be interested
in what it is that I'm
trying to accomplish,
maybe financially interested.
We already know.
Our work with osteosarcoma stem cells
it's a simple deduction.
You wish to research spinal cancer.
Nothing so basic.
I brought you here because
of your cancer research.
I practically memorized your paper
on phenotypical heterogeneity
of neural cells.
But, look, we can all
cure cancer another day.
Right now your research can be exploited
to create stem cells to
grow new spinal discs.
Eliminate the need for surgery.
That's what we're doing
here at DiscGenics.
I question if you understand
the most basic science.
may I see that for one second?
Thank you.
Um, if you'll all turn to page 13.
This is your work in
spherical clone generation.
You were able to demonstrate
stem cell markers OCT 3/4,
unless I misunderstood.
- That is correct.
- Right, but unlike with STAT3,
where there was robust
expression in both spheres
and adherent cultures, NANOG and OCT 3/4
had more variable
patterns of expression.
Ergo, the key determinant in
self-renewal and pluripotency
for stem cells in embryonic
settings are variable.
Am I right?
I'm right. So all I'm asking
is that we take your work
into stem cell self-renewal markers,
and we use it to create
a new cell therapy.
We build stem cells
to repair diseased spinal discs.
Will you help me out?

Well, what do you think?
- Definitely intrigued.
Outside the obvious, how can I help?
[SIGHS] My surgical reps are killing me.
You know, there's only
so many hours in the day.
You are an M.D./PhD.
You have to be able to balance both.
You look tired.
[SIGHS] Yeah.
I'm burning the candle at
both ends and the middle.

A little friendly word
if I had a future ahead
of me as bright as yours,
I would never want to be a
minute late showing up for it.
- Okay?
- Yes, sir.
I'm gonna go press some flesh.

Today I will be performing
an anterior cervical discectomy
- and fusion.
The vertebral bodies are
exposed, and so is the disc.
Chris, I'm thinking DiscGenics
is gonna need some more money.
What do you mean?
You should meet with
some investment bankers.
I am drilling directly into the disc
until I encounter the posterior
longitudinal ligament.
- Beyond that is the spinal cord.
- Before I get the patent?
The PLL is pierced.
Inside the diseased disc
resembles crabmeat.
I use a nerve hook to remove the disc
and decompress the spinal cord.
It's classic chicken-and-the-egg.
Private equity is a lusty courtship.
The spinal cord is the
white, glossy structure
with a juicy blood vessel on top,
and that is the dura.
Now, we tease out

We now tease out the disc.

Dr. Duntsch has successfully
removed the disc.
Well done.
Don't worry. You'll get
your patent, Chris.
And you and your company
will make us obsolete.
We now drill holes for the
twin screws in the vertebra.
You ready?

The only useful thing
you learned at Harvard
was how to name-drop the word Harvard
into any given conversation.
Oh, here are our two esteemed visitors
I was telling you about
Dr. Robert Henderson
and Dr. Randall Kirby.
It's a pleasure to make your
acquaintance in the flesh, gentlemen.
Dr. Kirby went to Rice University
and Baylor College of Medicine.
And Dr. Henderson
I'm so sorry. I-I'm
completely forgetting.
Uh, where did you get your M.D.?
- University of Nebraska.
- Yes.
Right, right. Um, go, Corn Huskers.
Duntsch's friend, if you can
believe he actually had one.
Turned him into a quadriplegic.
As of today, he's closing in on
two dozen botched surgeries
holes that drilled through muscle,
nerves severed, arteries.
I mean, the guy can't define
basic regional anatomy.
He approaches spinal surgery
like a child playing with Tinkertoys.
This is not the Christopher
Duntsch I knew.
These things here, I
I never saw.
I just can't explain it.
Well, perhaps you could help us unpack
the reference you provided for Duntsch?
Of course.
He met all of his training hours?
Yes, though I-I can't speak
to his his residency.
You'd have to check with them for that.
I'm sure you wouldn't have
included him in your fellowship
if you didn't think he was
properly trained, correct?
- Correct.
- You oversaw his surgical reps here?
Yes. And if you were one of my fellows
and I was watching
and you did what you've shown me here,
that would be the end
of your fellowship.
Any drugs?
I never saw anything that would
lead me to that conclusion.
Psychiatric issues?
He may have sought counseling.
A lot of students do.
I'm afraid that's really
all I can help you with.
With all due respect, I have
to disagree with you there.
His references are the
bedrock to his bullshit.
He can get credentialed anywhere.
You're in a unique position
to tell them what you know about Dallas.
I did, on the form for Forest Park.
I mentioned poor outcomes at Baylor.
- But not Dallas Medical?
- No, no.
They wanted the form back immediately.
So I checked the boxes as requested,
stated that he was
satisfactory, which he was.
If it had been me,
I would have done everything
in my power to say,
"No, I cannot recommend him."
I can read you the form for privileges,
but it only relates to his time here.
You're only allowed to attest
to what you directly observe,
that period of time the
observation is made,
and your role as observer
what happened during his training.
What about the images
we've provided you with?
Yeah, I'm sorry.
I-I'm afraid I'd have to throw
the ball back to Dallas.
What happened, he did in Texas.
Makes you think the hospitals there
will take any surgeon with a pulse.
I see why you're so upset
these hospitals not reporting him,
not vetting him properly.
But this is a Texas problem
not a Tennessee problem.
Hi, it's Christopher Duntsch.
Dr. Christopher Duntsch calling.
Uh, just following up
on that exam you had
a couple of months ago.
I just wanted to see if you're
still interested in surgery
to correct all that pain.
I'm still working out of Baylor-Plano,
but I did actually start
working at another hospital.
I'm just following up.
How's that neck pain?
A tingling foot?
The exam is free.

You are interested.
Oh, you moved.
Out of state.
You know, January is Spinal
Health Awareness Month.
Mrs. Bloom?
He passed.

I will say hi to Jerry for you.
Kim is great.
No, she's great.
Well, Jerry moved on.
That's a hairline fracture.
You you could be paralyzed
if you don't correct it.

Kim is great.

Yes, yes. I promise
I'll never call back.

Dr. Duntsch?
The Dr. Duntsch?
Can I help you?
We're kind of closing up.
Uh, I'm Stan Novak.
I, uh, found 'em in your door.
Oh, it's that damn office manager
so scatterbrained.
When did you hurt your neck?
Motorcycle crash six years ago.
I've had five back surgeries.
- How'd you know it was my neck?
It's kind of what I do for a living.
Let me guess
when the spasms happen,
it feels like an electric shock?
Oh, any little thing sets 'em off.
Sometimes hits me when I'm driving.
- I almost go off the road.
- Yeah, that's Lhermitte's sign.
We're looking at a cervical fusion.
You got severe compression
of the spinal cord,
but if we decompress that,
you'll have a full recovery.
I've seen so many doctors,
but I wanted you.
[CHUCKLES] Saw your award video.
- Best Docs.

Two reasons why patients
normally present
to their doctors for pain
related to the spine
the first is related to the
peripheral nervous system.
That's called radiculopathy.
Now, that's normally
associated with compression
or degenerative changes
to the spinal structure
irritating the nerve, or
Award for best doctor in Texas, huh?
You caught me in the
middle of an expansion.
I'm a little short-staffed right now.
You can still do it, right?
I'm all booked up at Baylor,
but I did just start
at University General.
I can squeeze you in there.

We get the process, Duntsch.
And we do like disruptive tech.
Then you're gonna love DiscGenics.
Oh, it's just that I was forced
to take the "D to a C" program,
- in high-school biology, so
- I put the fucking A in AP chem,
and I still don't get what it does.
Okay, brass tacks
I'm inventing an injectable
fountain of youth for the spine.
- Work for his wanker?
- That's phase two.
Hey, there's hope.
Look, simply put, stem cells
take over diseased cells
in spinal discs and repair them.
How far along is it?
We're looking for partners
right now to raise capital
based on lead assets that
we've already generated.
I mean, look, I am developing
a key process
in the manipulation of stem cells,
but, equally important,
our competitors are going
to need to use this step
if they want to play in our space.
We'll own it, and they'll have to pay.
And how'd you come up with the concept?
- I knew it.
- I knew it.
Bass down low, bass,
bass, bass down low ♪
- B-bass, bass down low ♪
I-I-I like my beats fast ♪
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hey.
Make way for the king.
Yo, what the fuck's a MISI?
Minimally Invasive Spine Institute
Minimally invasive spines
are your jam, man.
Too many choices. What are you gonna do?
What are we gonna do?
I don't think you should
sell anymore, you know?
- Come on, man. It's no big deal.
- No, no.
Come with me.

I got job offers in Dallas,
California, wherever.
What am I gonna do?
You already live with me. You drive me.
We're best friends, right?
Goddamn right we are.
Wherever you go, I'll work for you.
Hey, how about director of marketing?
Preach the empire of Duntsch.
I like my beats fast ♪
- And my bass down low ♪
- Drop it to the floor ♪
Bass down low, bass,
bass, bass down low ♪
I-I-I like my beats fast
and my bass down low ♪
It's like one, two, three, okay ♪
Wait a second.
Every day feel like my birthday ♪
And we sip champagne when we thirsty ♪
Just wanted to introduce myself.
Get out of here.
My name's Chris. What's yours?
I paid for this, Chris.
Back the fuck off.
Touch my friend again,
I'll break your spine,
and you'll have to pay him to fix it.
- So, what's your name?
- Crystale.
It's a little early for Halloween.
- I like your costume better.
- You gonna pay for it?
No, 'cause you are priceless.
Oh, if only I hadn't heard
that line seven times tonight.
I bet you break a heart
every time you say that.

If you're really a doctor,
what kind are you,
aside from being a cheap-ass one?
Well, Crystale, unless
you're board certified
in neurosurgery and molecular biology,
I don't think I could explain it to you.
I'm board certified in
knowing you're an asshole.
- Hey!
- My name's not "hey."
Well, it's not Crystale either.
Look, I've had a crazy day.
A bunch of dreams just
came true all at once.
Has that ever happened to you?
Dancing here is my trifecta
of dreams come true.

Okay, so I'm an asshole,
and I'm sorry for what I said earlier.
Pardon the interruption.
Listen, bro, I don't need
to be marketing director.
Only title I want in
your life is friend,
and you can never fire me.
I go where you go,
but you do need a slogan for DiscGenics.
A slogan? I'll give it a whirl.
- You don't know what it is.
- Do you know what it is?
I don't need to. I'm good.

Holy shit. Done fucking deal.
Fuck, yeah. Chris, you got to hear it.
She's rock and roll.
La, la, la, la-la, la-la ♪
La, la, la, la-la, la-la ♪
If you want to get with me ♪
There's some things you got to know ♪
- Drop it to the floor ♪
- Bass down low ♪
Bass, bass, bass, bass down low ♪
I-I-I like my beats fast
and my bass down low ♪
B-b-bass down low ♪
Bass, bass, bass, bass down low ♪
I like my beats fast ♪
- And my bass down low ♪




- Hey! Come on!
- No, no, no oh.
I came at a bad time, I'm sorry.
No, no, no! Come on.
It's opera night, come on in.
- Come on.
- Hey, look at this.

He got another job.
University General Hospital.
You know what?
I went to med school with the
owner of this place Dr. Sasani.
- We should go there.
- And do what exactly?
I don't know. We'll figure it out.
We'll, uh, denounce him publicly.
No more half measures, right?
- Okay.
- Come on.
Jacqueline, look who's here!
This is Dr. Bob Henderson.

Previous EpisodeNext Episode