Dallas surgical center resumes operations after doctor arrested on accusations of tampering with IV bags

Baylor Scott & White said the facility reopened after the Department of Justice determined the allegedly tampering was limited to the one doctor.

DALLAS — A Dallas surgical center where a doctor was accused of tampering with IV bags has “resumed normal operations.”

In a statement to WFAA, Baylor Scott & White said the Surgicare North Dallas reopened last week following an investigation by the Department of Justice.

“The DOJ noted that investigators believe the problem was limited to one individual who has been arrested and is in custody,” the health care company said. “Our dedicated patient line will remain open for those who have questions or concerns.”

An anesthesiologist at the surgical center, Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, has been at the center of an investigation after being accused of tampering with several IV bags and causing medical complications and a death earlier this year.

Ortiz’s medical license was suspended by the Texas Medical Board in early September after the board determined the continued practice of medicine posed “a continuing threat to public welfare.”

The 59-year-old was arrested on Sept. 14 on federal charges of tampering with a consumer product causing death and intentional drug adulteration.

Accusations of tampering

According to investigators, Ortiz had told a colleague he felt hospital supervisors were trying to “crucify” him over an alleged medical mistake shortly before he allegedly injected nerve blocking agents and other drugs into patient IV bags at the Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, located at 12230 Coit Road. 

A criminal complaint unsealed on Sept. 15 said Ortiz’s alleged tampering caused the death of fellow anesthesiologist Dr. Melanie Kaspar, 55, and caused as many as 11 other cardiac emergencies in other patients. 

Hospital officials said they became aware of the tainted IV bags on Aug. 24 and “paused all operations” and notified “the appropriate local and federal authorities.”

Kaspar’s death in June had initially been tied to a heart attack, but the latest autopsy and toxicology test results released on Aug. 24 said she had died from an overdose of bupivacaine, a drug used to numb patients in surgery. 

In each instance where patients had cardiac emergencies, the complaint said medics were able to stabilize the patients only through the use of emergency measures and most of the incidents occurred during longer surgeries that used more than one IV bag.

Investigators said complications happened in surgeries where Ortiz was not the anesthesiologist. 

Surveillance video from the center’s operating room hallway allegedly showed Ortiz placing IV bags into a stainless-steel bag warmer shortly before other doctors’ patients experienced cardiac emergencies, the complaint said.

“There appears to be a likely correlation between Ortiz coming under scrutiny for medical errors and the adverse events affecting other anesthesiologists’ patients,” the complaint stated.

During a detention hearing on Sept. 19, Ortiz was ordered to remain in detention. An investigator at the hearing called Ortiz a “medical terrorist.”

Ortiz could face life in prison if convicted on the federal charges.

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