Federal agents arrested a Texas anesthesiologist accused of tampering with IV bags that led to the death of a colleague and sparked a series of terrifying emergencies in the operating room, officials said Thursday.
dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. was arrested in Plano on Wednesday and charged with tampering with a consumer product and intentionally counterfeiting drugs, offenses that could lead to life behind bars, federal prosecutors said.
Ortiz was suspended in the wake of an ongoing criminal investigation into Dr. Melanie Kasper, 55, on June 21, according to the temporary suspension order issued Friday by the Texas Medical Board.
She died after using an IV bag she had from the clinic where she and Ortiz worked. Kasper had “taken the bag home when she was sick, to rehydrate,” the suspension order said.
An autopsy revealed that she had been the victim of “a lethal dose of bupivacaine,” federal authorities said.
On or about Aug. 24, an 18-year-old male patient suffered “a heart failure during scheduled surgery” as the teen had to be “intubated and transferred to a local ICU,” federal authorities said in a statement.
A saline infusion bag used in that teenage patient’s procedure showed the presence of the stimulant epinephrine, bupivacaine, and lidocaine.
There were 10 other “additional unexpected cardiac emergencies” at the center between May and August this year, and none of the incidents happened during any of Ortiz’s surgeries, officials said.
In one of those complications, a surveillance video would show Ortiz “walking quickly from an operating room to the pocket warmer, put a single IV bag in it, visually scan the empty hallway and quickly walk away,” authorities said.
An hour later, a “56-year-old woman suffered a heart failure during a scheduled cosmetic surgery after a bag from the warmer was used during her procedure,” federal officials said.
While authorities did not explicitly state a motive for the alleged crimes, one complaint said: “Dr. Ortiz had a history of disciplinary action against him, expressed concern with other physicians about disciplinary action at the facility, and complained that the center was trying to ‘ crucify him,” said a statement from the Justice Department.
It was not immediately clear on Thursday afternoon whether Ortiz had hired or assigned a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com