Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz Jr. has been charged with drugging IV bags that allegedly led to the death of at least one person and the injury of many others.
He was arrested on Wednesday after a federal investigation found evidence that he appeared to be adding a drug called bupivacaine to IV bags at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare in North Dallas, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Only a few days prior, the Texas Medical Board had suspended Dr. Ortiz’s medical license after concluding that he represented “a continuing threat to public welfare.”
The Dallas Express first broke the connection between Dr. Ortiz and the Baylor Scott & White medical facility on September 2.
However, prior to his arrest, The Dallas Express reviewed documents showing that just last month the state board believed Dr. Ortiz added “present value to the community” and allowed him to continue practicing medicine despite a troubled history of criminal behavior.
Thursday’s unsealed criminal complaint shows that in May, one of Dr. Ortiz’s patients stopped breathing “during a routine procedure” at the Surgicare facility. Baylor Scott & White investigated the incident and concluded that he had “deviated from the standard of care.”
Then in June, fellow anesthesiologist Melanie Kaspar died after self-administering an IV bag she took from the facility. An autopsy report released in late August determined that she died from bupivacaine toxicity, as reported by The Dallas Express.
On August 24, a young man reportedly underwent surgery at the Surgicare center and experienced a life-threatening medical emergency after an IV had been administered. A subsequent inspection of the bags showed puncture marks, and testing revealed a mixture of bupivacaine, epinephrine, and lidocaine had been added to the bag.
The surgery center identified at least 10 other similar instances in the past few months “where patients experienced unexpected cardiovascular complications during otherwise unremarkable surgeries.”
The investigation found that every medical emergency suspected to be connected to doped IV bags happened shortly after Dr. Ortiz was physically in the building. Furthermore, no similar medical emergencies “occurred during the time he was on vacation.”
Surveillance footage allegedly shows repeated instances of Dr. Ortiz placing IV bags in the warmers outside of operating rooms. Whenever those bags were used, the patient suffered a medical emergency and often had to be rushed to an “emergency facility.”
The federal agent investigating Dr. Ortiz called his actions “alarming and unusual.” Additionally, during surgeries for which he was the anesthesiologist, he would reportedly refuse to use IV bags from the warmer and insisted on retrieving the bags himself.
The complaint concludes, “The video evidence shows Ortiz inexplicably placing single IV bags in the warmer precisely near the times of the adverse events under investigation.”
If Dr. Ortiz is convicted, he could face up to life in prison. He will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Toliver on Friday, September 16 at 10 a.m.