Dallas, Texas– A Dallas anesthetist was arrested on charges of injecting nerve blocks and other drugs into bags of intravenous fluids at the surgical center where he works, resulting in the death of a colleague and causing heart emergencies in several patients, authorities announced Thursday .
dr Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. was arrested Wednesday on a criminal complaint alleging he tampered with a consumer product, causing death and intentional drug adulteration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas said in a statement. If convicted, he could face a life sentence.
Ortiz, 59, remained in the Dallas County Jail without bail Thursday. The records do not list an attorney for him.
According to the criminal complaint, a 55-year-old colleague of Ortiz’s experienced a medical emergency and died on June 21 immediately after treating herself for dehydration with an IV bag of saline solution from the surgery center. An autopsy revealed she died from a fatal dose of bupivacaine, a nerve-blocking drug that is rarely abused but is often used when an anesthetic is administered.
On August 24, an 18-year-old male patient suffered a cardiac emergency while undergoing routine sinus surgery, was intubated and transferred to an intensive care unit. Chemical analysis of fluid from a saline bag used during his surgery revealed the presence of bupivacaine, the stimulant epinephrine, and the local anesthetic lidocaine, drugs that prosecutors said could have caused the patient’s sudden symptoms.
Surgical center staff concluded that the incidents indicated a pattern of deliberate tampering with the IV bags used at the center. They identified 10 more unexpected cardiac emergencies that occurred during otherwise unremarkable surgeries between May and August, which the complaint said represented an exceptionally high complication rate in such a short period of time.
The incidents began two days after Ortiz was briefed on a disciplinary investigation into an incident in which he allegedly “deviated from standard of care” during an anesthesia procedure when a patient was experiencing a medical emergency. Ortiz, who had been disciplined in the past, expressed concern to fellow doctors about the disciplinary action and complained that the center was trying to “crucify” him.
The complaint alleges that all of the incidents occurred while Ortiz was providing services at the facility, but none happened while he was on vacation.
In one case captured on surveillance video, agents observed him walking quickly from an operating room to an IV bag warmer, placing a bag inside, visually scanning the empty hallway and quickly walking away. A little over an hour later, a 56-year-old woman suffered a cardiac emergency during scheduled cosmetic surgery after a pouch from the warmer was used during her procedure, according to the complaint.
In another videotaped incident, agents saw Ortiz exit his operating room with an IV bag hidden in what appeared to be a paper folder, swapped the bag for another from the warmer, and walked away. About half an hour later, a 54-year-old woman suffered a heart attack during scheduled cosmetic surgery after a pouch from the warmer was used during her procedure.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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https://6abc.com/doctor-arrested-medical-anesthesiologist-dr-raynaldo-rivera-ortiz/12233344/ Anesthesiologist Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. arrested on charges of tampering, causing death and intentional drug adulteration