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Dallas Doctor Found Guilty of IV Bag Tampering

trial
Jury box | Image by Mint Images/Getty Images

Dallas anesthesiologist Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz Jr. has been found guilty of poisoning IV bags at a North Texas surgical center.

Ortiz, formerly employed by Baylor Scott & White SurgiCare, has been found guilty on 10 counts of tampering with a consumer product and the adulteration of drugs.

The federal jury in Dallas returned its verdict after deliberating for around seven hours beginning Thursday afternoon. Ortiz could be sentenced to life in federal prison at his next hearing, which is expected to take place in two to three months.

Both federal prosecutors and defense attorneys rested on Wednesday, with Ortiz opting not to take the stand.

As covered by The Dallas Express, the trial, which began last week, saw Ortiz’s victims and former coworkers take the stand to provide accounts of the series of unexpected medical emergencies that transpired between May and August 2022.

A particularly heartwrenching testimony was given by the husband of anesthesiologist Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a fellow employee at the SurgiCare facility who suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after administering an IV bag to herself for hydration that prosecutors said had been tampered with by Ortiz.

“I’ll have regrets forever that I didn’t pull that IV bag out of her arm,” John Kaspar told the jurors, per WFAA.

Prosecutors relied on witness testimonies and video surveillance footage showing Ortiz behaving strangely around the IV bag warmer to obtain a conviction. The defense had tried to establish “confirmation bias” and prove his fingerprints were not found on the IV bag wrappers taken into evidence in this case.

An expert witness, an anesthesiologist named Dr. Bobbie Jean Sweitzer, also spoke on behalf of the defense on Wednesday. Her analysis of the patient records provided to her by defense attorneys cast doubt on poisoned IV bags causing the medical emergencies. She concluded that they were potentially caused by the patients having undiagnosed health conditions or unknown risk factors — such as COVID-19 infection — at the time, per NBC 5 DFW.

Yet the arguments put forth by the prosecution proved sufficient to convince jurors that Ortiz had the motive and opportunity to tamper with the IV bags. For instance, in support of their claims that Ortiz committed the acts out of fear of losing his job amid disciplinary issues, prosecutors painted a portrait of a man in deep financial trouble with two businesses losing money, per Fox 4 KDFW.

The widower Kaspar expressed relief when jurors returned a guilty verdict, granting him some closure after two difficult years.

“Time stops. If you are lucky, you have a lot of friends who can shove you along. I’ve had many good friends. They’ve done exactly what was required of them. I thank every last one of them,” Kaspar said, per Fox 4.

“I’d like to give a thank you to whoever was breaking into the surgical center so they could install the cameras. Because they wouldn’t have existed otherwise,” he added.

The Dallas Express initially broke the connection between the surgical center and Ortiz. The case has brought the reporting practices and policies of the Texas Medical Board under scrutiny. Ortiz had a history of disciplinary actions, assault, and animal cruelty before the medical episodes he has been convicted of causing. Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a new patient safety bill that increased hospital reporting requirements and boosted transparency about physician disciplinary records.

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