A doctor who injected nerve-blocking drugs into IV bags compromised a dozen patients and killed a colleague
A Texas anesthetist was arrested and charged Thursday with tampering with a consumer product and intentionally tampering with drugs when he added drugs to the IV drops he used, which could have caused stoppages multiple patients.
Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., a 59-year-old anesthetist whose license was suspended a week earlier, was arrested for tampering with intravenous drops used in surgeries and adding to them, among other drugs, bupivacaine, which directly caused the death of his colleague Melanie Kaspar when she used one of the intravenous drips to rehydrate herself, according to the Daily Beast.
Ortiz, who faced disciplinary investigations regarding his practices as recently as May, underwent more than 10 surgeries between May and August of this year in which patients developed heart emergencies during or after” otherwise mundane surgical procedures,” the DOJ reported.
Ortiz allegedly put his own IV bags in the stainless steel bag warmers of other doctors’ offices that had cardiac arrests or emergencies, with surveillance video showing him doing so during one of the surgeries that took complications during it.
“Our complaint alleges that this defendant surreptitiously injected heart-stopping drugs into patients’ IV bags, decimating the Hippocratic Oath,” U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham said.
“A single incident of apparently intentional harm to a patient would be disconcerting; several incidents are truly disturbing. At this point, however, we believe the problem is limited to one individual, who is currently behind bars. We will work tirelessly to hold him accountable. In the meantime, it is safe to undergo anesthesia in Dallas.
Among the drugs that were found in the allegedly doctored IV bags were epinephrine, bupivacaine and lidocaine. Melanie Kaspar allegedly suffered a lethal dose of bupivacaine when she drank a doctored intravenous bag to relieve her dehydration.
Ortiz’s history of disciplinary investigations includes a 2018 incident where he was reprimanded for not reporting a conviction after shooting his neighbor’s dog in the chest; in some disciplinary filings, Ortiz was described as someone with “a history of violence against women.”
“The security of the country’s pharmaceutical supply is of critical importance,” said Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton. “The Department will vigorously pursue this matter based on the evidence gathered by our law enforcement partners.”
Ortiz could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.