DALLAS, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Texas anesthesiologist was arrested on criminal charges related to alleged tampering with IV bags, resulting in one death and multiple cardiac surgeries.
According to a statement from the United States Department of Justice, Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr, injected nerve blocking and bronchodilation drugs into patient IV bags at a local surgical center.
On June 21, a 55-year-old woman experienced a medical emergency and died immediately after being treated for dehydration using an IV bag from the surgical center.
The autopsy report revealed the woman died from a lethal dose of bupivacaine, a type of anesthetic often used during a standard surgical procedure.
On Aug. 24, an 18-year-old patient experienced a cardiac emergency during a surgery. A chemical analysis of the fluid from the patient’s saline bag used during his surgery revealed anesthetics such as lidocaine and bupivacaine. The analysis also revealed epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.
Surgical center personnel concluded that the death and surgical emergency incidents suggested a pattern of intentional contamination of IV bags used at the surgical center.
10 additional cardiac emergencies occurred during surgical procedures between May and August.
A complaint alleges that the cardiac incidents occurred two days after Ortiz after an incident which he “deviated from standard care” during an anesthesia procedure when a patient experienced a medical emergency.
Additionally, the complaint alleges that surveillance video from the surgical center’s operating room hallway showed Ortiz placing IV bags into a stainless steel bag warmer, visually scanning the empty hallway and quickly walking away.
One hour after Ortiz placed IV bags into the bag warmer, a 56-year-old patient experienced a cardiac emergency during her surgery after a bag from the warmer was used during her procedure.
Ortiz is charged with tampering with a consumer product and with intentionally tampering drugs. If convicted, Ortiz faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. He will make his appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Dallas on Friday.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the Dallas Police Department.