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What happened to the doctor who left a patient’s brain exposed while he got a snack?

Dr. Raymond Sattler

Dr. Raymond Sattler. (StarNews file photo)

In 1994, Dr. Raymond Sattler, a neurosurgeon in Wilmington, left a patient on the operating table for 30 minutes with her brain exposed to go grab a snack. Sattler lost his medical license in November of that year, about two months after the incident; documents related to the suspension contained complaints that Sattler had during other operations instructed an untrained nurse to drill holes into a patient’s skull and had requested intravenous fluids for himself when he felt weak, among other things.

Sattler agreed to seek psychiatric help and, five months later, got his medical license back, but was unable to gain privileges at either of Wilmington’s two hospitals. According to Medical Board records, he is currently practicing child psychiatry in McLean, Va.

On www.vitals.com, a website where patients can grade their physicians, Sattler currently holds a 3.5-star rating, out of a possible four stars. He is rated “excellent” overall on punctuality, and “good” in a host of other criteria, including bedside manner, accurate diagnosis and follow-up.

User-contributed question by:
Stephen Clemmons

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4 Responses to “ What happened to the doctor who left a patient’s brain exposed while he got a snack?”

  1. On January 25, 2012 at 9:36 am ILMNative wrote:

    I’m not defending Dr. Sattler, but if I’m not mistaken from what I recall from sources in the medical field that I talked with about this years ago is that I believe that he is diabetic and needed something to eat because of this condition and the fact that the surgery went longer than anticipated. He didn’t just leave because it was his lunch time. Just thought the additional information might provide some insight on the decision to leave the OR.

  2. On February 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm Bullwhacker wrote:

    Regardless if or is a Diabetic; he knew his condition and planned ahead for it.
    Example bringing a beverage with sugar in it and have a nurse give it to him if he needed it.
    So don’t make excuses with this loser – I won’t use the word Doctor. It degrades all of the good one’s out there..

  3. On February 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm Anne Russell wrote:

    Dr. Raymond Sattler is one of the finest, most capable physicians I know. He recognized my brain tumor in 1990 when all other physicians had missed it, operated immediately, and saved my vision and likely my life. He is devoted to providing excellent medical care to everyone.

    Dr. Sattler was much misunderstood in the complaint matter; he would be the only neurosurgeon on emergency call late at night at the hospital, and would spend many long hours in the operating room. He is a human being, and when he felt his blood sugar dropping he would wait until a safe period of time to get some nourishment so he could continue his work.

    One aspect of his situation which has not been addressed is envy on the part of other physicians who felt competitive with him, and nurse resentment because he could be abrupt with them. If Dr. Sattler were still in town, I would trust him any time to operate on any member of my family. I have experienced no after-effects since he performed my brain surgery.

    I admire his courage in rebounding from his professionally-humiliating situation, being willing to take on many more years of study and training, and go into child psychiatry. His patients are fortunate to have his services.

  4. On March 1, 2014 at 5:04 pm McLean Mom wrote:

    That is a real shame what happened 20 years ago. My heart goes out to any one who suffered.

    As to the headline question… “What happened…”

    I can share with those wondering that he became a very good psychiatrist. My child has been under his care after a psychotic break. We had heard wonderful things from other parents so decided to use him despite what this article said. I figured different practice area and twenty years is a lifetime ago for me personally.

    He not only provided my child was needed in a way that was reassuring to my entire family. Every recommendation has produced great results, the road to recovery wouldn’t be nearly as far along as it is without him.

    We are so grateful he switched careers and moved here. Again, sorry for anyone who suffered but wanted to share a positive experience.



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