Dallas anesthesiologist tampered with IV bags, killing another doctor, prosecutors say

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CNN

A Dallas anesthesiologist was arrested Wednesday on federal criminal charges for allegedly injecting nerve blocking agents and other drugs into patients’ IV bags at a surgery center, resulting in the death of his colleague and multiple heart emergencies. , according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to Dallas Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“A single incident of apparently intentional harm to a patient would be disconcerting; several incidents are truly disturbing. At this point, however, we believe the problem is limited to one person, who is currently behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham. “The Department of Justice and our tireless partners at the FDA Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Dallas Police Department will work tirelessly to hold him accountable. In the meantime, it is safe to undergo anesthesia in Dallas.

Ortiz will make his first appearance before a U.S. magistrate in Dallas at 10 a.m. Friday. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ortiz didn’t have a lawyer listed.

The arrest stems from a series of unexpected cardiac emergencies at the Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas facility from May through September, according to the Texas Medical Board.

In particular, Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a 55-year-old anesthesiologist at the surgery center, died in June, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.

According to the criminal complaint, she suffered a medical emergency and died immediately after treating herself for dehydration using an intravenous bag of saline solution taken from the surgical center where she and Ortiz worked. An autopsy report taken on or around August 24 revealed that she died from a lethal dose of a nerve-blocking agent called bupivacaine, which is often used when administering anesthesia.

Also on August 24, an 18-year-old man had unexpected complications during surgery and required hospitalization for several days, the complaint states.

Investigators then obtained several IV bags from the surgical facility and found that two had small puncture holes in the clear plastic wrapper, the complaint states.

Surveillance video linked Ortiz to several of the incidents, according to the complaint. For example, on August 4, surveillance video shows Ortiz walked from an operating room to a bag warmer, placed a single IV bag inside, visually scanned the empty hallway, and then walked away. quickly moved away, the complaint states. Shortly after, a 56-year-old woman suffered a cardiac emergency during scheduled cosmetic surgery after a heater bag was used during her procedure, the complaint states.

“If someone else at (the surgical facility) other than Ortiz was responsible for these events, there would likely be video evidence of that person handling IV bags,” the complaint states. “Instead, the video evidence shows that Ortiz inexplicably places unique IV bags in the warmer precisely near the times of the adverse events under investigation.”

Investigators also found that the surgical facility began investigating Ortiz on May 19 for allegedly deviating from the standard of care with a patient, the complaint states. Ortiz was notified of the disciplinary investigation on May 24, and the first cardiac emergency incident occurred later that week, the complaint states.

Ortiz first obtained his medical license in February 1991 and practiced as an anesthesiologist at surgical centers in Dallas, according to the criminal complaint.

On September 9, a Texas Medical Board Disciplinary Committee was notified of the charges and temporarily suspended Ortiz’s medical license in Texas, “after determining that his continued practice of medicine poses an ongoing threat to the well- be public,” a statement from the Texas Medical Council said.

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