Investigation into doctor reveals at least 10 more ‘unexpected cardiac emergencies’

An investigation into a North Texas doctor accused of compromising IV bags revealed at least 10 more “unexpected cardiac emergencies” between May and August, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas announced Thursday. .

The officials mentioned in charging documents that the incidents began on the heels of a separate disciplinary inquiry with the doctor, about which he had expressed his displeasure.

Dr. A.S. Reynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr.(Dallas Police Department / Dallas Police Department)

Dr. A.S. Dallas Police said 59-year-old Reynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. was taken into custody Wednesday in Plano., He faces federal charges of tampering with a consumer product and willful drug adulteration.

Ortiz was held in the Dallas County Jail on Thursday. He did not have a lawyer listed in court records.

Ortiz, an anesthesiologist, is part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the serious cardiac complications faced by patients at Baylor Scott & White SurgicalCare North Dallas and the death of 55-year-old Melanie Kasper, another anesthesiologist at the facility.

In a statement, the health care system – which halted operations at the North Dallas facility – said it had assisted officials with the investigation, and will continue to do so.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the people we serve,” the statement said.

If convicted, Ortiz faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“Patients expect their doctors to use only safe and effective medical products during their surgery. When illegal tampering occurs, serious harm and even death can occur,” says the FDA’s Criminal Investigation Office of Special Agent Charles Grinstead said in a written statement. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to monitor, investigate and judge those who would put the health and safety of patients at risk.”

a pattern emerges

According to a police incident report, on June 21, officers were called to Kasper’s home in Lakewood after her husband said he gave himself an IV, then complained of severe pain about half an hour after the fall. Paramedics were unable to revive him.

Although Kasper was initially believed to have died of a heart attack, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office later determined the cause of his death was a toxic effect of the local anesthetic bupivacaine.

The Texas Medical Board said Kasper used an IV bag from the facility, where Ortiz was seen in surveillance footage keeping the IV bags in a warm spot outside the operating room. According to the board, lab tests of the IV bags from Warmer showed that they were tampered with and were not labeled as containing bupivacaine.

“Such drugs can and will be fatal when administered intravenously and intravenously,” the board wrote.

Another compromised IV bag left an 18-year-old on a ventilator in what the board called “routine surgery.”

On August 24, the patient went into surgery at the center to repair a deviated septum, but the procedure was stopped when his blood pressure became so high that it caused severe breathing problems.

The patient was intubated and placed on a ventilator. The family’s lawyer, Bruce Steckler, said he was released five days later in good condition.

Analysis of fluid from the saline bag used during the teen’s surgery revealed the presence of bupivacaine, epinephrine and lidocaine, other drugs that may have caused the patient’s sudden symptoms.

According to the criminal complaint against Ortiz, these two incidents suggested “a pattern of intentional adulteration of used IV bags,” surgical center personnel found.

10 more emergencies

Surgical center personnel identified 10 additional “unexpected cardiac emergencies” that occurred during “otherwise intractable surgeries” between May and August, with “extraordinarily high rates of complications over a short period,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Told.

Most incidents occurred during prolonged surgery using more than one IV bag, including bags obtained from stainless steel bag warmers.

The criminal complaint details an instance in which Ortiz was seen on video walking from an operating room to a bag warmer, keeping a bag inside, looking both directions down an empty hallway, and then walking quickly was. Just an hour after the document, a 56-year-old woman suffered a cardiac emergency during cosmetic surgery because a bag of hot water was used during her procedure.

In another instance, the complaint said, the video showed Ortiz carrying an IV bag from an operating room, hidden in a paper folder, swapping the bag with a warmer from another bag, and Go away Roughly half an hour later, a 54-year-old woman suffered a cardiac emergency after using a bag from a warmer during cosmetic surgery.

The officers wrote in the criminal complaint that no other employee was seen carrying a single IV bag warmer.

“Our complaint alleges that this defendant, subverting the Hippocratic Oath, secretly injected anticonvulsants into the patient IV bag,” US Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in a written statement.

license suspended

Federal officials contacted the Texas Medical Board last Thursday about the criminal investigation. On Friday, he suspended Ortiz’s medical license after concluding he was an “imminent threat” to public health.

Ortiz was previously disciplined by the state’s medical board in August about the 2020 procedure, during which he underwent anesthesia and the patient required CPR. The board ordered Ortiz to have another physician supervise his practice, receive additional education, and pay a $3,000 fine.

In 2018, he was reprimanded for failing to report his arrest on charges of animal cruelty.

Days before events began in May, Ortiz learned of another disciplinary investigation on a patient who, according to the criminal complaint, had stopped breathing during a procedure in surgical North Dallas he was caring for.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ortiz “expressed concern” over the disciplinary action to other physicians and complained that the center was trying to “crucify” him. A doctor at the surgical center told officials that losing his job at Ortiz’s facility would be financially devastating.

According to Collin County records, Ortiz deposited $4.1 million in unpaid taxes to the IRS from 2015 to 2020. The IRS removes a lien on your home after paying a portion of that amount, but the tax lien Filed in 2021 and 2022, she said she owed more than $570,000.

Property records show Ortiz’s 7,700-square-foot home in Murphy is worth $1.3 million.

Baylor Scott & White said recent patients are being contacted and patients with questions can call 214-818-2794.

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