DALLAS — A Texas Medical Board disciplinary panel has temporarily suspended the license of a Baylor Scott & White doctor connected to its investigation into a 'compromised' IV bag that caused a death and serious heart complications.
The doctor, Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, was suspended Thursday after the board determined his continued practice of medicine posed "a continuing threat to public welfare," a Texas Medical Board press release stated.
The release further said that federal law enforcement provided the board panel with information regarding the investigation involving Ortiz, including details related to a death and additional heart problems suffered surrounding Ortiz's presence at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas from May through September 2022.
"This is clearly a necessary step in the investigation and we appreciate the ongoing efforts of law enforcement and Texas Medical Board in ensuring patient safety," said Bruce Steckler, an attorney representing five patients who had surgeries at the medical center between May and August.
Ortiz's suspension will remain in place until the board takes further action, the release added. A temporary suspension hearing will be held as soon as possible, with 10 days notice for Ortiz -- unless Ortiz specifically waives the hearing.
Previous records show the medical board had previously disciplined Ortiz just last month for not providing lifesaving care to a patient in need of CPR. Public records also show multiple other healthcare sanctions filed against Ortiz dating back to 2018.
In the order of temporary temporary suspension for Ortiz, findings of fact include that the board was informed Ortiz was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation related to serious heart complications and the death of one patient at the North Dallas facility.
The order states that surveillance footage shows Ortiz in the facility, placing single IV bags into a warmer in a hall outside of operating rooms. Shortly after Ortiz deposited a bag, a patient would suffer a serious complication, the order said.
A fellow Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas anesthesiologist, Melanie Kaspar, took a tampered IV bag home on June 21 to rehydrate while she was feeling ill, the order details. Once inserting the IV into her vein, she almost immediately suffered a serious cardiac event and died.
John Kaspar, Melanie Kaspar's husband, said in a statement that his wife was well-loved and -respected.
"She was beloved by her patients, peers, and everyone she worked with," John Kaspar wrote. "To watch her die in such a tragic manner is something I will have to live with forever. She was a beautiful woman."
An autopsy report from the Dallas Medical Examiner's office in August 2022 concluded Kaspar's death came from accidental bupivacaine toxicity, the order added. Bupivacaine is an anesthetic used to numb areas of the body and provide pain relief during surgical, medical and dental procedures.
The order also detailed that lab tests run on IV bags from the warmer found visible tiny holes in the plastic wrap around the bags, and that the bags were found to contain bupivacaine, but were not labeled as such.
Additional tests on the remaining contents of an IV bag given to another otherwise healthy patient who had a serious heart event during a routine surgery showed that the IV fluid in their bag had similar drugs that shouldn't have been inside.
"Such drugs could and would be fatal when administered unknowingly and intravenously," the order states.
Upon receiving information from federal law enforcement investigating the case, board staff held a temporary suspension hearing without notice less than 24 hours later on Friday.
"The Panel finds an imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare that requires immediate effect of this Order of Temporary Suspension on the date rendered," the order details.
Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas remains temporarily closed as the investigation into the facility continues.
In a statement to WFAA, Baylor Scott & White said the following: "The safety of those we serve remains our priority. We will continue to limit our comments as we support authorities in their investigation."