Disgruntled anesthesiologist convicted of poisoning patients’ IV bags


Raynaldo Riviera Ortiz Jr. was convicted of poisoning patients' IV bags in Texas (Surveillance video screenshot via FOX 4 Dallas-Fort Worth/YouTube)

Raynaldo Riviera Ortiz Jr. was convicted of poisoning patients’ IV bags in Texas (Surveillance video screenshot via FOX 4 Dallas-Fort Worth/YouTube)

An anesthesiologist from Texas, who prosecutors said was facing the possible loss of his medical license and who owed millions to the IRS, was convicted of injecting drugs into patients’ IV bags, resulting in at least one death and causing multiple patient cardiac emergencies.

Raynaldo Riviera Ortiz Jr., 60, was convicted of four counts of tampering with consumer products resulting in serious bodily injury, one count of tampering with a consumer product and five counts of intentional adulteration of a drug, prosecutors said in a news release on Friday. He faces up to 190 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

“Dr. Ortiz cloaked himself in the white coat of a healer, but instead of curing pain, he inflicted it,” U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton said in a statement. “He assembled ticking time bombs, then sat in wait as those medical time bombs went off one by one, toxic cocktails flowing into the veins of patients who were often at their most vulnerable, lying unconscious on the operating table. We saw the patients testify. Their pain, their fear and their trauma was palpable in that courtroom.”

His defense attorney, John Nicholson, argued that prosecutors blamed the most convenient person instead of investigating other medical staff handling IV bags, local NBC affiliate KXAS reported.

The trauma happened in 2022 at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, where numerous patients suffered cardiac emergencies during routine medical procedures, authorities said.

About a month after the unexplained emergencies started, an anesthesiologist at the facility earlier that day died while treating herself for dehydration using an IV bag.

Suspicions were raised about tainted IV bags in August of that year after an 18-year-old sinus surgery patient began having high blood pressure, cardiac dysfunction and pulmonary edema symptoms and had to be rushed to the intensive care unit in critical condition, prosecutors said.

A test of the fluid from the teen’s IV bag found the suspected cause — a drug cocktail of bupivacaine — a nerve-blocking agent, epinephrine — a stimulant, and lidocaine — an anesthetic.

Authorities also found a puncture in the bag and learned Ortiz surreptitiously injected the bags with the drugs, put them into a warming bin, and waited for them to be used in his colleagues’ surgeries. Prosecutors said surveillance video showed him repeatedly retrieving IV bags from the warming bin and replacing them just before they were carried into operating rooms where patients experienced complications. Video also showed him mixing vials of medication and watching as emergency responders wheeled victims out, officials said.

Doctors testified at trial about the confusion they felt when their patients’ blood pressures skyrocketed after new IV bags were hung. Patients remembered waking up intubated, confused, in pain and fearing for their lives in intensive care units.

Prosecutors alleged Ortiz was disgruntled over disciplinary problems he had been facing, including possibly losing his medical license for an alleged medical mistake in one of his surgeries. Citing records from the Texas Medical Board, Law&Crime reported Ortiz had also been arrested on allegations that he abused women and shot a pet dog.

He also owed millions of dollars to the IRS, KXAS reported.

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