In June, a local anesthesiologist died from what appeared to be a heart attack. However, further investigation by the Dallas County Medical Examiner discovered that the cause of death may have been related to an IV bag contaminated with a drug called bupivacaine, as reported by NBC Dallas.

Dr. Melanie Kaspar worked at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas on Coit Road, which closed its doors this week after evidence emerged of at least two compromised IV bags.

One day in late June, Dr. Kaspar took home an IV bag from the clinic and self-administered it after reportedly feeling dehydrated, according to NBC Dallas.

The bag, however, had more than the typical saline solution in it. It also contained bupivacaine, a localized anesthetic often used to numb particular areas of a patient’s body during surgeries.

Administering this drug in an IV bag is not typical practice. If too much is administered, it can cause seizures, convulsions, hypotension, and cardiovascular collapse which can lead to cardiac arrest.

A 2013 study published in Anesthesia Essays and Researches stated that the wrongful introduction of bupivacaine into a working IV bag can cause “cardiotoxicity,” which “can result in sudden cardiac death,” noting that while it rarely happens, “it has a high mortality rate.”

Before her fatal incident, Dr. Kaspar lived an active lifestyle, often riding her bike and walking her dogs. Her obituary stated that she “was well respected in her field and at the various hospitals she worked at across Dallas.”

She went to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School before holding a residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and a fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center, according to the Texas Medical Board. She had hospital privileges at 10 institutions in the Dallas area.

Dr. Kaspar’s death has drawn attention to the sudden shutdown of Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, where at least one additional contaminated IV bag has been discovered that may have been the cause of a separate medical emergency.

The surgery center told The Dallas Express that “Surgicare North Dallas contacted law enforcement after discovering that an IV bag appeared to have been compromised. On the same day, the facility elected to pause its operations, and we remain focused on assisting investigators.”

As reported by The Dallas Express, another local anesthesiologist, Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz, who reportedly worked at the surgery center, has been the subject of repeated disciplinary actions by the Texas Medical Board. At least one instance resulted in a patient requiring emergency intervention after being treated by Dr. Ortiz.

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