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EXCLUSIVE: 'All that stuff... was a lie' | In jailhouse interview, North Dallas doctor denies he poisoned IV bags

Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz, who faces up to life in prison if convicted, says surveillance video evidence of him at an IV warmer is misleading.

Tanya Eiserer, Jason Trahan, Mark Smith

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Published: 6:40 PM CDT October 27, 2022
Updated: 10:10 AM CDT October 28, 2022

Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz was eager to tell his side of the story. 

The Dallas anesthesiologist accused of poisoning patients called WFAA from the Limestone County Detention Center. 

“All that stuff that they said was a lie,” Ortiz said. “I’ve had no lawsuits, no malpractice in 29 years, not one.” 

In a more than 30-minute telephone interview, Ortiz said he’d been set up, that he’d done nothing wrong and cast aspersions on the people he once worked with. He said his troubles began after he reported another medical professional for alleged sexual misconduct. 

Ortiz spoke one day before he was due to appear in a Dallas federal court to be arraigned on 10 felony counts related to allegations that he tampered with IV bags. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges.  

According to a criminal complaint, for three months -- from May to August of this year -- 11 people who came for routine outpatient surgeries suffered cardiac episodes on the operating tables at Baylor, Scott and White’s Surgicare North Dallas facility on Coit Road. The episodes typically occurred during longer surgeries when hospital staff retrieved additional IV bags from a warmer, the complaint said. 

While Ortiz wasn’t the anesthesiologist in any of those routine surgeries, prosecutors allege he tampered with IV bags. 

According to the criminal complaint, the cardiac episodes began in late May, days after Surgicare North Dallas officials notified Ortiz he was being investigated for the circumstances surrounding a May 19 surgery. The complaint said a facility review found “Ortiz deviated from the standard of care by failing to maintain the patient’s airway and failing to document critical aspects of the incident.” 

“He expressed to a fellow doctor that (Surgicare North Dallas) was trying to ‘crucify’ him,” the criminal complaint said.  

The criminal complaint also said that investigators obtained four hospital surveillance videos purporting to show Ortiz placing IV bags in a warmer for use in surgeries. Four times after nurses pulled IV bags from it, a patient experienced a cardiac episode. 

Dr. Ortz told WFAA that the surveillance videos are not what they seem. 

He said before surgeries, an anesthesia tech sets up the operating room and brings in IV bags. 

“An hour, two hours later, that bag is cold because it’s been sitting out, so I take it back (to the warmer),” Ortiz said.   

Ortiz also said that surgical supplies – including IV bags – would frequently sit out in the hallway for days. “This stuff that’s outside is not even locked away,” he said. 

However, the criminal complaint says that facility personnel told investigators that IV bags taken into an operating room "would not be brought back out into the hallway and placed in the warmer.” The surgery center’s staff also said that the warmer is stocked by staff members from cardboard boxes of IV bags and doctors, including anesthesiologists, at the facility do not typically place IV bags in the warmer.  

A nurse also told investigators that she recalls she retrieved an IV bag from the warmer to use during an August surgery, but Ortiz “strongly refused to use the bag and physically waived the bag off.”  She also said that around that time, Ortiz retrieved his own bags for use during his procedure, which was unusual.  

Although investigators identified 11 patients affected, he was only indicted for four patients who underwent surgeries in August.   

Those four patients range from 18 to 78 years of age.  

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