Dallas anesthesiologist tampered with IV bags, killing another doctor, prosecutors say



CNN

A Dallas anesthesiologist was arrested Wednesday on charges of injecting nerve-blocking agents and other drugs at a surgery center, causing the death of his colleague and multiple cardiac emergencies, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., 59, a physician, was arrested by Dallas Police in Plano, Texas on Wednesday and charged with tampering with a consumer product causing death, according to Dallas Police and Dallas Police. US Attorney’s Office.

“A single incident of apparently intentional patient harm would be alarming; multiple facts are really disturbing. At this time, however, we believe the problem is limited to one individual, who is currently behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham. “The Department of Justice and our tireless partners at the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation and the Dallas Police Department will work tirelessly to hold him accountable. In the meantime, it is safe to administer anesthesia in Dallas.”

Ortiz will make his initial appearance in front of a U.S. District Court judge in Dallas on Friday at 10 a.m. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ortiz did not have an attorney listed.

The arrest stems from a series of unexpected cardiac emergencies at the Baylor Scott & White Surgery North Dallas facility from May to September, according to the Texas Medical Board.

In fact, Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a 55-year-old anesthesiologist at the surgery center, died in June, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.

According to the criminal complaint, he experienced a medical emergency and died immediately after being treated for dehydration using a saline bag taken from the surgery center where he and Ortiz worked. An autopsy report on or around August 24 revealed that she died of a fatal dose of a nerve blocker called bupivacaine, which is often used in the administration of anesthesia.

Also on Aug. 24, an 18-year-old male had unexpected complications during surgery and had to be hospitalized for several days, according to the complaint.

Investigators then obtained several IV bags from the surgical facility and found they had small puncture holes in the clear plastic container, the complaint states.

Surveillance video linked Ortiz to several incidents, according to the complaint. For example, on Aug. 4, surveillance video shows Ortiz walking from an operating room to a warming bag, placing a single IV bag inside, visually scanning the empty hallway and then quickly leaving, the complaint says. Shortly thereafter, a 56-year-old woman suffered a cardiac emergency during scheduled cosmetic surgery after using a heating bag during her procedure, the complaint states.

“If someone other than Ortiz (from the surgical facility) was responsible for these events, there would likely be some video evidence of that person handling the IV bags,” the complaint states. “Several, the video evidence shows Ortiz inexplicably placing IVs in single warm bags near the times of the adverse events under investigation.”

Investigators also found that the surgical facility began investigating Ortiz on May 19 for allegedly deviating from the standard of care with a patient, the department said. Ortiz was notified of the disciplinary inquiry on May 24, the same week the first cardiac emergency occurred, the complaint states.

Ortiz first obtained his medical license in February 1991 and practiced as an anesthesiologist at Dallas surgery centers, according to the criminal complaint.

On Sept. 9, the Texas Medical Board’s disciplinary panel was notified of the allegations and temporarily suspended Ortiz’s Texas medical license after “determining that his continued practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to the public welfare,” Texas Medical said in a statement. The board said.