The Texas Surgeon Was Charming—and a 'Monster'

The 'Texas Observer' reports on Dr. Eric Heston Scheffey
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2022 2:00 PM CDT
His Patients Were Maimed or Even Died. He Kept Practicing
   (Getty Images / MJ_Prototype)

"Looking at Dr. Scheffey, one isn't likely to think he's a monster. But he was a monster." That's how retired personal injury attorney Priscilla Walters describes Dr. Eric Heston Scheffey, and she's not the only person to speak in such terms about him. She says a former colleague told her he had been dubbed "Eric the Red" for how blood-covered he was when he emerged from his surgeries. But it's the blood that was allegedly on his hands that Kait Gallagher delves into for the Texas Observer. She describes the Texas surgeon as charming, rich, and seemingly untouchable, despite allegations that he had killed and maimed patients. Gallagher cites lawsuits and board records that show at least five patients died following (often allegedly unnecessary) surgeries he performed.

Two more committed suicide, and others said they were paralyzed or left in crippling pain. And yet he managed to practice in Texas from 1982 to 2005, when his medical license was finally revoked. Scheffey seemingly dodged bullet after bullet during those two-plus decades: After being arrested with cocaine in his car, after patient deaths, and after allegedly twice punching a cop who served him with notice of a lawsuit, Scheffey lawyered up, fought back, and resumed practicing medicine. He "remains free and prosperous," Gallagher writes. Her story is as much about the havoc Scheffey allegedly wreaked as it is about the medical board's failure to stop problematic doctors. (Read the full piece, which includes patient Brenda Phillips' allegations against Scheffey.)

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