An anesthesiologist in Plano, Texas, has been arrested after several IV bags containing inappropriate drugs have supposedly been traced to him. Prosecutors allege that one of these bags caused the death of a fellow doctor, and another caused serious complications for at least one other patient.
Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., 59, has been arrested after security footage indicated that, on several occasions, he had tampered with IV bags, which may have caused some of the emergency incidents that arose during otherwise routine surgeries at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare Center throughout the summer.
According to Fox News, Ortiz had been under investigation by the FBI after he was allegedly seen on security cameras placing IV bags into a warmer. The bags were then used during subsequent procedures in which serious complications unexpectedly arose.
Officials investigated the bags and determined that they contained “visible tiny holes in the plastic wrap.” They also discovered the presence of bupivacaine, a numbing agent often injected into the spinal cord during surgery to alleviate pain but which can be fatal if injected directly into a vein.
Authorities suspect that such was the case for one of Ortiz’s colleagues. On June 21, Dr. Melanie Kaspar, 55, a co-worker at Baylor Scott & White, took a saline bag home to help her rehydrate following an illness. However, almost immediately after she inserted the IV into her vein, she went into severe cardiac distress and died.
Another young man, 18, identified in the filing only as J.A., also had a serious complication develop during a minor sinus surgery on August 24. J.A. had to be intubated and transferred to intensive care. Tests of the saline solution in one the patient’s IV bags revealed the presence of bupivacaine, epinephrine, and lidocaine, none of which should have been there, but which could have caused the symptoms.
J.A.’s current condition is unknown.
After the J.A. incident, Baylor Scott & White temporarily suspended its operations, and the Texas Medical Board then suspended Ortiz’s medical license on September 9. As the surgical center also experienced an usually high complication rate this summer, investigators are now considering whether those cases can be connected back to Ortiz.
Though none of the complications occurred during any of Ortiz’s surgeries, the complaint notes that none of them occurred while he was on vacation either. They all occurred around the time that Ortiz was in the facility or shortly thereafter. The incidents also reportedly began shortly after Ortiz was subjected to a disciplinary inquiry for deviating “from the standard of care.”
There have been other charges leveled against him as well. Since 1999, at least three women have accused him of domestic violence, and he was convicted of an unspecified crime after he shot a neighbor’s dog in 2015. The dog ultimately survived.
Now, Ortiz has been charged with tampering with a consumer product causing death and intentional drug adulteration. He is expected to appear in federal court on Friday. He faces life in prison if convicted.