Starting off my day with a 25-minute drive has encouraged me to find the best podcast to make that time enjoyable. When my podcast-loving friend suggested a new one, I was more than ready to give it a shot. Luckily after hearing what it was about, I was hooked before I even pressed play.
Produced by Wondery, the producers of the podcast “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death” is the perfect mix between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Law and Order: SVU.” With a new episode coming out weekly, “Dr. Death” tells the horrifying story of every patient’s worst nightmare come true — finding out your doctor ignored the “do no harm” part of their oath.
Taking place in Texas, the website describes the storyline of the podcast as “A charming surgeon. 33 patients. A spineless system.” This description couldn’t be a better match for what’s to come in each episode.
The first episode starts with a hypothetical situation, which for many people is a reality — having a chronic problem, going to a doctor and finding a doctor who might be able to help. The host, Laura Beil, talks about how going to the doctor requires you to be at your most vulnerable and put all your faith in the doctor, trusting that they will do everything in their power to fix your problem, and most importantly, that they know exactly what they are doing. Unfortunately for the people who see Dr. Christopher Duntsch, aka Dr. Death, these reassurances are not a reality.
The most chilling part of this podcast is that the entire story is real. Patients who have had their life changed, as well as doctors who tried to stop the damage, are interviewed on the podcast, sharing how Dr. Death touched their lives. And yet after having caused complication after complication, crippling or killing with each trip to the operating room, this doctor was allowed to fall through the cracks, bouncing from hospital to hospital.
Beil points out early on in the series, this doctor was not the only person at fault. Throughout the podcast, she shows listeners the flaws in the entire medical system, which allowed Duntsch to negatively touch so many lives.
Beil has the perfect background to host this podcast. According to her bio on the Wondery website, she spent the past 20 years doing health and science writing, which lines up well with the subject of this podcast. She does an amazing job setting up the story, giving the background needed, but never getting too much jargon.
Each episode is made complete with the soundtrack. “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” originally by The Grateful Dead sets the mood, giving listeners an eerie feeling right from the get-go.
The one downside of this podcast is that it will make you think twice the next time you meet a charming doctor. After hearing the stories of the patients who will never walk again or those who never woke up, going to the doctor may not seem as simple.
If you thought “Dirty John” was creepy but thrilling, then “Dr. Death” is a must listen to. Available where you listen to podcasts, a new episode is released weekly totaling a six-part series telling the shocking tale of not only one doctor, but the terrifying side of the medical system that we rely on.