A Dallas anesthesiologist has been suspended after the Texas Medical Board was made aware of an ongoing federal investigation. The news comes after tainted medical IV bags were found and a doctor at Baylor Scott & White died after using one of the IVs to treat her own dehydration.
Disclosure statement: Baylor Scott & White Health advertises with Local Profile.
It was announced by The Dallas Morning News that the Baylor Scott & White anesthesiologist was arrested in Plano on Wednesday in connection with the tampered IV bags. The arrest followed the death of another employee of the hospital who had used one of the tainted bags. Dallas police confirmed to Local Profile that Ortiz was in custody. The police department is not answering any other questions related to the arrest and all questions are to be directed to the US Attorney’s Office.
Steckler Wayne Cherry & Love is representing seven clients related to the IV bag concerns. Bruce Steckler spoke to Local Profile and addressed the fact that he will be pursuing both physical and emotional damages for his clients. Steckler also indicated that all of the represented clients were healthy pre-procedure and went in for routine elective surgeries. Several are under 25 and had no other conditions before entering the operating room. Two to three of the patients represented by Steckler Wayne Cherry & Love are residents of Collin County.
“We are exploring lasting repercussions of the cardiac issues and respiratory distress,” Steckler told Local Profile.
On September 9, the Texas Medical Board sent out a press release announcing the temporary suspension of Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz after determining that “his continuation in the practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to public welfare.”
Continuing, the press release stated, “The Board panel found that on September 8, 2022, Board staff received information from federal law enforcement engaged in an ongoing investigation involving Dr. Ortiz, relating to serious cardiac complications and one patient’s death connected with Dr. Ortiz’ presence at the Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas facility from May through September 2022.”
According to the board’s findings, Ortiz was allegedly captured on surveillance footage depositing single IV bags into the warmer in the hall outside of operating rooms. Shortly after, a patient suffered serious complications. Then, on June 21 a fellow doctor, Melanie Kaspar, took one of the IV bags home to hydrate herself but soon after using the IV, she suffered from severe cardiac episodes and died. Laboratory tests were run on the bags and evidence found there had been tampering. Holes were discovered in the plastic wrap around the bags and contained bupivacaine, an anesthetic often used when inducing spinal anesthesia. The surgery center temporarily paused operations while Dallas police investigated the bags.
“On Aug. 24, immediately upon determining an IV bag had potentially been compromised, Surgicare North Dallas paused all operations and notified the appropriate local and federal authorities,’ a spokesperson for the hospital said. “There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of those we serve. We actively assisted authorities in their investigation and will continue to do so; we also remain focused on communicating with patients.”
USA Today reported that The Dallas Medical Examiner found that Kapar’s death was caused by accidental bupivacaine toxicity. But Local Profile has not confirmed this. However, Ortiz has not been charged with the death, but it is under investigation. The investigation also will look at several other patients who were treated for cardiac complications, including an 18-year-old that was treated for a deviated septum.
But the suspicious death was apparently not the only reason for the doctor’s suspension. NBCDFW reported that issues with the doctor have been going on for years: In October 2018, for example, Ortiz was fined $2,000 and his clinical privileges were suspended for 14 days for not reporting that he was convicted of animal cruelty. Two years later in 2020, Ortiz was also instructed by the Texas Medical Board to undergo monitoring while practicing medicine.
“The board found Dr. Ortiz failed to meet the standard of care for a patient during a procedure and was the subject of disciplinary action as a result of the incident,” the board stated according to NBCDFW. The incident was a patient was in need of CPR and emergency transport during a procedure at the North Garland Surgery Center. The board did not specify what happened to the patient. Ortiz was fined $3,000 and was ordered to take eight hours of education in medical record keeping and eight hours in resuscitation and intubation techniques.
The team Steckler Wayne Cherry & Love is in contact with the hospital’s council, and they are working to come to a conclusion. Monetary gain from the clients is not yet estimated as Steckler explained: “Right now, our number one priority is to ensure that this does not happen again. Patients place great trust in healthcare facilities to ensure that they have qualified and well-credentialed staff, and maintain the safety and integrity of their medical supplies and controlled substances.”
Ortiz has not been charged with any connection to the bags yet. Local Profile has reached out to Baylor Scott & White for comment but had not received a reply before publication.