When most people seek out a job as a doctor, it is for the noble cause of healing the sick. However, one Dallas doctor is being accused of tampering with IV bags and, if found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Former anesthesiologist Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., 59, is being described by federal prosecutors as a “medical terrorist” for reportedly injecting heart-stopping drugs into saline IV bags. The poisoned bags caused 11 patients at the facility to experience cardiac emergencies and death in the case of one physician.
Federal papers claim the acts were committed as the result of a misconduct probe into Rivera Ortiz Jr. In September, he had his license revoked after the aforementioned, otherwise healthy patients experienced medical emergencies while undergoing routine procedures.
“Respondent’s continued practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to public welfare,” explained the Texas Medical Board in the suspension order.
A week later, the former anesthesiologist was arrested and charged with tampering with a consumer product causing death or serious injury, intentionally adulterating a drug knowing it would likely cause an adverse health reaction, and others.
Video of the potential incidences showed Rivera Ortiz Jr. suspiciously warming IV bags that he was carrying with him. This is strange because “it was highly unusual for a doctor to ever put an IV bag in the warmer or retrieve his own for surgery,” according to a Fox News report.
After a patient stopped breathing during a standard procedure, the facility told the suspect they were launching an investigation. This information distressed him, and he complained to a colleague that he felt the management was trying to “crucify” him for the incident. It was later determined that Rivera Ortiz Jr. did not document the medical emergency properly and had “deviated from the standard of care by failing to maintain the patient’s airway.”
The report claims that just two days after the former anesthesiologist was made aware of the probe, mysterious medical emergencies began cropping up at the facility.
This included the death of Melanie Kasper, a fellow anesthesiologist who had taken home a bag of the tainted saline to rehydrate herself. She suffered a heart attack and passed away. An autopsy would indicate that she had been poisoned with bupivacaine, which is used to numb patients but is not introduced intravenously. Eleven more emergencies would occur before Rivera Ortiz Jr. was banned from practicing medicine. Some of the saline bags were tested, including two with “puncture holes” that had been put in the warmer. Bupivacaine, epinephrine and lidocaine were found in two of the bags which had resulted in cardiovascular emergencies for two victims.
But this may not have been the first time Rivera Ortiz Jr.’s actions had put patients in danger. In 2020, he lost his privileges to practice at North Garland Surgery Center when a patient suffered “inadequate oxygenation and ventilation” during a procedure.
If he is convicted on all charges, he faces life in prison or the death penalty.
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