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Dr. Death review

Production company – Wondery

Rating – 5 Brains

I was given a tip off from GreatPods about a new series of the Dr. Death podcast. I haven’t actually listened to any of the previous seasons though, so I headed over to my brand spanking new Wondery+ account and downloaded all the episodes I could in preparation. 

Usually, I make a point of never listening to show trailers, much for the same reason I never watch movie trailers, so all I had to go on was a (rather ominous) title. Going into shows like this relatively blind is always exciting, and I was hoping mot to be disappointed.

So what’s it about?

Each season of Dr. Death examines a different case of serious medical malpractice. Season One covers the case of Neurosurgeon Chris Duntsch, who also gave the podcast its name. He was responsible for paralysing and in some cases killing patients in relatively simple operations.

Season Two opens the story of Dr. Farid Fata. He’s an oncologist who’s eagerness to bill patients for chemotherapy led to many serious illnesses and deaths.

Season Three exposes ground breaking surgeon (and hopeless romantic*) Paolo Macchiarini. His development of an artificial trachea was just one side to this unbelievable story of international malpractice and deceit.

Season Four (which is only two episodes old as of this review) follows mysterious AIDS treatment guru Dr. Serhat Gumrukçu. Has he really found a cure or is there something darker at work?

Is it any good?

This show is the definition of compelling. I think I need neck surgery myself after spending many hours shaking my head in disbelief at the stories told here.

In order to catch up I binged through the complete show in a few days, this was something of a double edged sword. Yes, I did manage to catch up while the new series was relatively new, but my god it was hard going at points. Not because it’s a bad show, but there is so much emotional baggage that you take on as you listen.

The stories are expertly told by Laura Biel. There are a lot of interviews with people who were directly affected by the actions of these men who ultimately held lives in their hands. She treats these interviewees with compassion and respect. This adds to the obvious gravity of the situation. It would be all too easy to dwell on the gory details (often you can’t escape that), but there is more to the stories than grue.

There are many similarities here to other investigative podcasts I’ve reviewed in the past, particularly Run Hide Repeat, Hoaxed and Scamanda. In fact, Season Three really did remind me a lot of Run Hide Repeat.

Final thoughts.

I would warn any potential listeners that there are some very graphic depictions of medical procedures. Particularly in season one. Whilst I am a horror film addict, I find actual operations pretty hard to stomach, and this had me wincing in more than one part. Screws and spines are not a combination I like to think about, whether combined properly or not.

I think the main thing to take away here is that whilst it is human nature to be fascinated with how people like this can do what they do, there are real lives affected, sometimes permanently, sometimes fatally. The surviving family and friends are left to try and come to terms with tragedy, after so much was promised.

You can get Dr. Death here:


*Insert sarcasm here.

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