DALLAS — Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, an anesthesiologist in North Texas, is facing accusations that he tampered with several IV bags at a Dallas surgical center, causing serious medical complications for several patients and a death earlier this year.
Ortiz was suspended by the Texas Medical Board in early September after the board determined continued practice of medicine posed "a continuing threat to public welfare."
Accusations of tampering
According to investigators, Ortiz had told a colleague he felt hospital supervisors were trying to "crucify" him over an alleged medical mistake shortly before he allegedly injected nerve blocking agents and other drugs into patient IV bags at the Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, located at 12230 Coit Road.
A criminal complaint unsealed on Sept. 15 said Ortiz's alleged tampering caused the death of fellow anesthesiologist Dr. Melanie Kaspar, 55, and caused as many as 11 other cardiac emergencies in other patients.
Hospital officials say they became aware of the tainted IV bags on Aug. 24 and “paused all operations” and notified “the appropriate local and federal authorities.”
Kaspar's death in June had initially been tied to a heart attack, but the latest autopsy and toxicology test results released on Aug. 24 said she had died from an overdose of bupivacaine, a drug used to numb patients in surgery.
In each instance where patients had cardiac emergencies, the complaint said medics were able to stabilize the patients only through the use of emergency measures and most of the incidents occurred during longer surgeries that used more than one IV bag.
Investigators said complications happened in surgeries where Ortiz was not the anesthesiologist.
Surveillance video from the center’s operating room hallway allegedly showed Ortiz placing IV bags into a stainless-steel bag warmer shortly before other doctors’ patients experienced cardiac emergencies, the complaint said.
“There appears to be a likely correlation between Ortiz coming under scrutiny for medical errors and the adverse events affecting other anesthesiologists’ patients,” the complaint stated.
Previous disciplinary actions against Ortiz
Ortiz had been twice disciplined by the Texas Medical Board. Once was for failing to report a conviction for shooting a neighbor's dog in Collin County and again for not administering life-saving measures to a patient in distress at the North Garland Surgery Center, which resulted in Ortiz losing medical privileges at that facility.
A third disciplinary inquiry is detailed in a criminal complaint, stating that on May 19, 2022, one of Ortiz’s patients at Surgicare North Dallas stopped breathing during a routine procedure. According to a review by the facility, Ortiz failed “to maintain the patient’s airway,” which was similar to the 2020 incident in Garland, the complaint states.
What happens next?
During a detention hearing on Monday, Ortiz was ordered to remain in detention. An investigator at the hearing called Ortiz a "medical terrorist."
He has not entered a plea and was granted a request for a court-appointed public defender.
Ortiz, 59, could face life in prison if convicted on federal charges of tampering with a consumer product causing death and intentional drug adulteration.
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