In a Netflix documentary, disgraced Swiss-Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini came into spotlight once again, exploring the dark facets of his career in the documentary “Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife.” The three-part series, akin to the true crime podcast “Dr Death,” delves into Macchiarini’s fall from grace despite his groundbreaking trachea surgery work, revealing negligence leading to four deaths and further fatalities post-experimental surgeries.

Documentary background

The documentary’s focus on Macchiarini’s background paints a picture of a Swiss national of Italian descent raised in Basel, who achieved medical acclaim with a specialization in surgery from the University of Pisa. Despite initial success, his career took a turn as he faced accusations of research misconduct and falsification by former colleagues in Stockholm in 2014. This led to retractions of his work published in respected medical journals, including The Lancet.

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Multiple false identities

Macchiarini’s flamboyant and deceptive personal life also comes to light, highlighted by an affair with NBC News producer Benita Alexander, who was unaware of his marriage and family. The private investigator hired by Alexander described the surgeon’s ability to maintain multiple false identities and lives as “amazing.”

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Glowing public image

Subsequent investigations in 2016 revealed Macchiarini continuing surgeries with little or no benefit to patients, showcasing a stark contrast to his glowing public image. Swedish police opened an involuntary manslaughter investigation in 2016, leading to a 2017 conclusion of negligence in four cases but an inability to prove criminality.

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Legal proceedings

Legal proceedings unfolded, resulting in a 2019 conviction and a 16-month prison sentence for abuse of office and forging documents, later overturned by the Supreme Court. In 2022, Macchiarini faced trial for causing bodily harm to patients, receiving a suspended sentence initially, which was later increased to two years and six months in prison for gross assault.

The documentary provides a comprehensive exploration of Paolo Macchiarini’s rise, fall, and legal battles, shedding light on the intricate web of deceit and negligence that marred his once-celebrated medical career.