Texas Doc Charged With Compromising IV Bags That Led to Colleague’s Death

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The Dallas-based anesthesiologist who had his medical license suspended earlier this week was arrested on federal criminal charges for allegedly tampering with IV bags, which led to a coworker’s death, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, Jr., MD, 59, an anesthesiologist at Baylor Scott & White Health SurgiCare North Dallas, allegedly had been adding drugs, such as bupivacaine, epinephrine, and lidocaine, to IV bags that were used on patients, resulting in unexpected cardiac emergencies in 10 incidents, according to the DOJ.

In addition to those patient-related incidents, one of Ortiz’s colleagues at the surgery center died on June 21 after using one of the tampered IV bags to treat herself for dehydration, the DOJ said. Early reporting by Dallas news station NBC5 identified the physician as Melanie Kaspar, MD, 55. An autopsy report revealed that her cause of death was a lethal dose of bupivacaine.

According to the criminal complaint, Ortiz has been charged with tampering with a consumer product that caused death or serious bodily injury and intentional adulteration of a drug with the reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences.

“Our complaint alleges this defendant surreptitiously injected heart-stopping drugs into patient IV bags, decimating the Hippocratic Oath,” U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in the DOJ press release. “A single incident of seemingly intentional patient harm would be disconcerting; multiple incidents are truly disturbing. At this point, however, we believe that the problem is limited to one individual, who is currently behind bars.”

The DOJ highlighted several incidents that occurred from May 26 to August 19 in which patients experienced unexpected cardiac emergencies that were allegedly related to the IV bags Ortiz altered.

According to the complaint, surveillance video from the surgery center allegedly showed Ortiz placing IV bags into a bag warmer outside the operating room shortly before patients experienced these cardiac emergencies.

The complaint also alleged that none of these incidents occurred during Ortiz’s surgeries, and one nurse who worked with Ortiz told law enforcement officials that he “refused to use an IV bag she retrieved from the warmer, physically waving the bag off.”

Ortiz has a history of disciplinary actions at the surgery center, and these incidents began just 2 days after he was notified of a disciplinary inquiry related to an earlier incident in which he allegedly “deviated from the standard of care” during a surgery, which led to a medical emergency for the patient, the complaint stated.

On September 8, the Texas Medical Board announced that it had temporarily suspended Ortiz’s medical license after federal law enforcement notified them that the physician was under criminal investigation related to the death of Kaspar.

The board said that Ortiz’s license was suspended after a disciplinary panel determined that he posed “a continuing threat to public welfare” if he was allowed to continue practicing medicine.

Ortiz’s disciplinary history with the board also includes incidents involving domestic and animal abuse, documents from the board showed. He was also found guilty of shooting his neighbor’s dog with a pellet gun in April 2015, according to court filings with the Court of Appeals in the Fifth District of Texas.

Ortiz was expected to appear in court today. The DOJ noted that if he is convicted of these charges, he could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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    Michael DePeau-Wilson is a reporter on MedPage Today’s enterprise & investigative team. He covers psychiatry, long covid, and infectious diseases, among other relevant U.S. clinical news. Follow

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