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Anesthesiologist Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. arrested on charges of tampering, causing death and intentional drug adulteration!

Dallas, Texas — A Dallas anesthesiologist has been arrested on charges of allegedly injecting nerve blockers and other medications into bags of intravenous fluids at the surgical center where he works, causing the death of a co-worker and causing heart emergencies to several patients, authorities announced Thursday.

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Dr. Reinaldo Rivera-Ortiz Jr. was arrested Wednesday on a criminal complaint alleging tampering with a consumer product that caused death and intentional drug fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the North Texas District. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Ortiz, 59, remained in the Dallas County Jail without bail on Thursday. The records do not mention his attorney.

According to the criminal complaint, a 55-year-old co-worker at Ortiz had a medical emergency and died on June 21 immediately after treating herself for dehydration with an IV bag of what she thought was a saline solution taken from the surgical center. An autopsy found that she died from a lethal dose of bupivacaine, a nerve-suppressing drug that is rarely abused but often used when an anesthetic is administered.

On August 24, an 18-year-old patient had a heart emergency during routine sinus surgery, was intubated and transferred to the intensive care unit. Chemical analysis of fluid from a saline sachet used during surgery revealed the presence of bupivacaine, the stimulant epinephrine and the local anesthetic lidocaine, which are drugs that can cause a patient to develop sudden symptoms, according to prosecutors.

The surgical center staff concluded that the incidents suggest a pattern of deliberate cheating of the intravenous bags used in the center. They identified 10 additional unexpected cardiac emergencies that occurred during unnoticed surgeries between May and August, which had an exceptionally high rate of complications during such a short period, according to the complaint.

The incidents began two days after Ortiz was notified of a disciplinary investigation into an incident in which he allegedly “deviated from standards of care” while performing anesthesia when the patient presented a medical emergency. Ortiz, who had a history of disciplinary action against him, expressed concern to other doctors about the disciplinary action and complained that the center was trying to “crucify” him.

The complaint alleges that all of the incidents occurred around the time Ortiz performed services at the facility, but none occurred while he was on vacation.

In one case captured in the surveillance video, clients noticed him walking quickly from the operating room to the IV bag warmer, placing a bag inside, visually scanning the empty corridor and quickly walking away. Just over an hour later, a 56-year-old woman experienced a heart emergency during a scheduled plastic surgery after using a bag heater during her procedure, according to the complaint.

In another videotaped case, agents saw Ortiz leave the operating room with an intravenous bag hidden in what appeared to be a paper file, replaced the bag with one by the heater and walked away. About half an hour later, a 54-year-old woman experienced a heart emergency during a scheduled plastic surgery after using a heater bag during her procedure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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