Dallas anesthesiologist Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. could face life in prison for allegedly altering the contents of patients’ IV bags. On Wednesday (Sept. 14), the 59-year-old doctor was arrested on federal charges for tampering with a consumer product causing death and intentional drug adulteration.
He is accused of filling the saline bags with nerve-blocking drugs and other contaminants that have caused several heart attacks and at least one death. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has surveillance video of the doctor handling the IV bags just before the incidents. According to local Dallas-Fort Worth news station KDTW 4, the first criminal complaint was filed on June 21. Documents state that one of Dr. Ortiz’s coworkers at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas died as soon as she treated herself for dehydration using one of his IV bags.
Her autopsy report showed a lethal dose of bupivacaine was responsible for her death. The nerve-blocking drug is commonly present when using anesthesia. In late August, another suspicious incident happened when an 18-year-old patient being treated for a routine sinus surgery suffered from a cardiac emergency.
An investigation of the 18-year-old’s situation determined that their IV bag also contained bupivacaine, as well as epinephrine and lidocaine. Between May and August of 2022, there were 10 suspicious cardiac emergencies. The Texas Medical Board discovered tiny holes in the IV bags at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare.
Although Dr. Ortiz was arrested in connection to the incidents, reports say none of the cardiac emergencies happened during his procedures. However, the incidents began only two days after the doctor was reprimanded for allegedly “[deviating] from the standard of care” while administering CPR to a patient.
The complaint against Dr. Ortiz says he’s seen on video looking down an empty hallway with an IV bag before he places it down and quickly walks away. A little over an hour later, a patient who used the same IV bag “for cosmetic surgery suffered a cardiac emergency.” There’s video of him using a paper folder to seemingly hide IV bags when walking throughout the facility. The complaint adds that no suspicious incidents happened while he was on vacation.