Feds arrest Dallas doctor accused of tampering with IV bags


Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. faces federal charges in death of fellow Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas doctor

DALLAS — Dallas police on Wednesday arrested a 59-year-old Richardson anesthetist on federal warrant on suspicion of contaminating IV bags at a North Dallas surgical center, resulting in the death of a fellow Dallas physician and injuries to several other patients.

Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. is accused of tampering with an IV at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, located at 12230 Coit Road.

He was arrested Wednesday in Plano.

So far, at least seven patients – possibly more – claim to have suffered serious life-threatening medical emergencies during routine surgeries at Surgicare North Dallas between May and August, according to local attorneys representing patients. and their families.

On June 21, Dr. Melanie Kaspar, 55, an anesthesiologist who had also worked at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, brought a bag of saline solution from the facility to her home in Lakewood to treat herself for dehydration. When she administered the IV, she “almost immediately had a serious cardiac event and died,” according to an order temporarily suspending Ortiz’s medical license issued Friday by the Texas Medical Board.

Ortiz is expected to make his initial appearance, and possibly plead against the charges, before a federal magistrate judge on Friday. At that hearing, prosecutors could ask the judge to detain Ortiz pending trial. We don’t know if he has a lawyer.

Agents from the US Food and Drug Administration are investigating the case.

On Friday, September 9, the Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended Ortiz’s medical license, calling him an “ongoing threat to the public welfare.”

In their temporary suspension order, the medical board said Ortiz was seen in surveillance footage at the Surgicare North Dallas facility “dropping IV bags into the lobby water heater outside the wards. When he put an IV bag in the warmer a short time later, a patient was suffering from a serious complication.

In August, the Dallas County Medical Examiner ruled that Kaspar died of an overdose of bupivacaine. Bupivacaine is an anesthetic used to numb areas of the body and relieve pain during surgical, medical, and dental procedures.

His death was initially ruled accidental, but the ME has since reopened the case for further investigation.

“She was loved by her patients, her peers and everyone she worked with,” Melanie Kaspar’s husband, John Kaspar, said in a statement to the WFAA. was a beautiful woman.

Don Tittle, John Kaspar’s lawyer, told the WFAA that his client was “relieved to hear that progress was being made” in the investigation.

“John supports and is grateful for the efforts of law enforcement,” Tittle said in a statement Wednesday.

“There is no doubt that Melanie Kaspar’s death was the result of an IV bag that was tampered with,” he said. “We have credible information to believe that over the course of several months, between 10 and 15 patients at the surgery center experienced a life-threatening medical crisis shortly after receiving an IV bag. It was thought to be standard saline bags, but they had almost certainly been tampered with to contain bupivacaine, a drug known to be highly toxic if introduced into the bloodstream.”

“Tragically, Mel was home when she unknowingly gave herself an IV bag contaminated with bupivacaine and, unlike the others, there was no one to save her life,” he said. .

Bupivacaine is the same substance that tests showed was present in Surgicare North Dallas warmer IV bags, the medical board order says. The bags “had visible tiny holes in the plastic wrap around the bags,” the order says.

Tests were carried out on the remaining contents of an IV bag that was given to another otherwise healthy patient who had a serious cardiac event during routine surgery, the board order says.

“Tests indicated that the IV fluid contained similar medications that should not have been in the IV bag,” the order said. “Such drugs could and would be deadly if administered unknowingly and intravenously.”

The Texas Medical Board said it only discovered on September 2 that a patient had died from possible media contamination of an IV bag. suspension hearing for Dr. Ortiz for the following day, September 9.

Brandon McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor unrelated to the case, said investigations like this are extremely rare and the severity of the sentence — if convicted — can vary widely.

“The categories of crimes are very different,” McCarthy said.

“You have some instances where people are trying to negatively impact the business, they’re not trying to hurt anyone, that’s where you see the three-year law kick in,” McCarthy said.

“Then you have these more egregious ones, where they do things – and the motive is always the issue here – they do things for nefarious purposes, and they don’t care, like it sounds like here they don’t care if someone is dead or there is serious bodily injury, and that’s when you see it go to the law of 20 years and life.”

A spokesperson for the Texas Medical Board did not say when Baylor first informed the board of concerns about the rash of patients having adverse reactions during surgeries.

“While we cannot release any complaints due to legal confidentiality, the council has scheduled a temporary suspension hearing as soon as it has any actionable information,” council spokesman Jarrett Schneider said.

Baylor Scott & White said the following in statements released Wednesday:

“We have actively assisted the authorities in their investigation and will continue to do so. We also remain focused on communicating with patients.”

“On August 24, immediately after determining that an IV bag had potentially been compromised, Surgicare North Dallas suspended all operations and notified the appropriate local and federal authorities. It elected to close the same day, and it remains closed. as we focus on assisting investigators. There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our patients. We have created a dedicated phone line for patients with questions: 214-818 -2794. Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz was no longer on the medical staff at Surgicare North Dallas at the time the Texas Medical Board suspended his license.”

Attorney Bruce Steckler said Wednesday he now represents seven clients who have undergone procedures at Surgicare North Dallas. They understand:

  • 18-year-old woman who had her gallbladder removed
  • A 39-year-old man who had a reverse vasectomy
  • A 21-year-old woman who had breast reduction surgery
  • 18-year-old man who had nose surgery after dirt bike accident

“All of the clients we represent seem to have the exact same story,” Steckler said Wednesday. “They all went for routine surgery, day surgery. All healthy. No major underlying issues. And they ended up being rushed to a major hospital because they needed to be intubated and ventilated because they suffered from respiratory distress and heart attack.”

A fifth Steckler client, a man in his 50s, suffered a cardiac episode during the operation, Steckler said. The operation was then aborted and, although the client did not end up in hospital, it took him all day to recover. He was told at that time he had an underlying heart condition, ‘but when he went to follow up they couldn’t figure out’ why the episode happened, Steckler said .

Steckler said his two new clients include a patient who was undergoing hernia repair and another who came in for a cosmetic procedure.

“My clients are cooperating with law enforcement,” Steckler said.

Ortiz has been disciplined at least twice by the Texas Medical Board — once in 2018 and again as recently as last month.

On Aug. 19, 2022, the medical board reprimanded Ortiz for failing to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on one of his anesthetized patients who needed it at North Garland Surgery Center in November 2020, according to board papers. The surgery center’s medical executive committee issued an “unfavorable recommendation,” and Ortiz waived his medical staff membership and all clinical privileges. The state medical board ordered that his practice be monitored by an outside physician and fined him $3,000, the documents show.

In 2018, the board disciplined Ortiz for failing to report a misdemeanor animal cruelty conviction. In 2016, he was convicted in Collin County of using a pellet gun to shoot and injure a neighbor’s dog in retaliation for helping his partner escape domestic violence, council papers show. . In this case, the board fined him $2,000 and gave him a public reprimand. The discipline was lifted in 2020 “due to the fulfillment of all requirements,” the medical board documents say.

In 1995, according to medical board documents, Ortiz was arrested for misdemeanor assault causing bodily harm to a spouse.

In 2005, another female partner filed for an emergency protective order against Ortiz, according to board documents.

Journalists Tanya Eiserer, Ariel Plasencia and William Joy, as well as producer Mark Smith, contributed to this report.

If you have been affected by the situation at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, please contact the WFAA Investigation Team here.


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