DALLAS — Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz, who is accused of tampering with IV bags resulting in multiple patients suffering medical emergencies and the death of a fellow anesthesiologist, was ordered to remain being held in detention at a hearing Monday. An investigator at the Monday hearing called Ortiz "a medical terrorist."
Ortiz is accused of tampering with IV bags at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas which resulted in multiple patients suffering medical emergencies after undergoing routine surgeries and the death of anesthesiologist Dr. Melanie Kaspar, who'd taken a bag home in June to treat her dehydration.
Kaspar passed away after suffering a cardiac event almost immediately after administering the IV, according to a report from the Texas Medical Board.
Kaspar's husband, John Kaspar, attended Friday's hearing, Ortiz's first appearance in court.
“I’ve never seen the man, and if he’s guilty of what he’s being accused of, I just wanted to see who he was," Kaspar said.
Ortiz last week went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Tolliver, after waiting nearly two hours Friday morning for his hearing. As he waited, he sat with his hands in his lap and his head bowed down only looking up to survey the room every now and then and to speak briefly with his attorney.
When it was his turn, Ortiz told Judge Tolliver he goes by "Ray" when asked to give his name. He was not read the four federal criminal charges he faces in this case and did not enter a plea.
Judge Tolliver granted Ortiz's request for a court-appointed public defender after ruling the financial affidavit he submitted qualifies him for the service, despite his career as a medical doctor.
Prosecutors were prepared to hold a detention hearing Friday, but the defense requested the hearing be pushed to Monday morning. Judge Tolliver scheduled the detention hearing, which will determine whether Ortiz will have to remain in custody until his trial, for Monday at 10 a.m.
Kaspar sat with his attorney and close friend, Don Tittle, through the brief hearing.
"I didn’t think I was going to have much of a response, but it was kind of a visceral experience seeing him for the first time," Kaspar said.
Dr. Kaspar's death was initially ruled an accident. Kaspar said even before the medical examiner called him a few weeks ago to tell him the case would be reopened, he had doubts.
"I grappled with the fact that she had a heart attack because she was a very healthy woman," Kaspar said. "She could sit on her bicycle trainer for hours and not have any issues. I think knowing something else was the cause of it is a little easier to swallow just from the sheer fact that it wasn’t an illness.”
Kaspar said he and his wife both contracted an illness in June, and she had taken an IV bag home with her from work to help with her dehydration. He said he watched her final moments.
“I saw, you know, firsthand witness to her demise, and it was the most agonizing thing I have ever seen in my entire life. So, I’ve got that to struggle with for a long time," Kaspar said.
At least 12 other patients who suffered medical emergencies during routine procedures are being represented by Steckler Wayne Cherry & Love Law Firm. One of their attorneys, Bruce Steckler, told WFAA that he and his clients haven't focused much of their conversation on Ortiz specifically because the accusations against him are still just allegations.
Steckler and Kaspar's attorney, Don Tittle, each said they are working with law enforcement and are waiting for the case to play out in court before placing blame.
Kaspar said, even if justice brings accountability, neither will bring his wife of 30 years back.
"There's no peace," Kaspar said. "If he's guilty and he's sent away, I'll be comfortable with that."