From where we sit, Dr. Death resoundingly wins the award for most disturbing podcast of 2018. Produced by Wondery, the network behind Dirty John, this gripping series manages to make an extreme case of medical malpractice addictively compelling.
Hosted and reported by science journalist Laura Beil, Dr. Death tells the story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a now-47-year-old neurosurgeon whose brutally botched back surgeries killed various patients under his care and gravely injured dozens of others. In a two-year span, he operated on 38 patients, leaving 2 dead and 31 either paralyzed or gravely injured. (Duntsch is now serving out a sentence of life imprisonment.)
The 10-part podcast explores Duntsch’s crimes from every angle, untangling his life story, his medical training, his drug abuse and the reckless overconfidence that led him to proclaim himself the best back surgeon in Dallas — despite the growing number of grievous injuries piling up in his wake. It also examines the powerful impact his misdeeds had on acquaintances and colleagues, the psychology that led him to tell a friend he wanted to become a serial killer, and Duntsch’s tragically long road to justice.
“He really thought he was a good surgeon,” Beil explained to Rolling Stone when the podcast first premiered.“He had this completely narcissistic personality where he was just completely blinded to the idea that he could make a mistake.”