Dallas doctor accused of poisoning IV bags appears in court

A Dallas doctor accused of poisoning other doctors' patients at a Dallas surgery center faced a federal judge for the first time since his arrest on Wednesday. 

Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz waited in the courtroom for hours for his case to be called, sitting with his head hung down — but looking up occasionally — for the majority of the time. 

In federal court, Ortiz wore the same black shorts and black polo shirt that he was wearing during his intake into the Dallas County jail. In court, he asked the judge to appoint him a public defender and signed a sworn affidavit saying he could not afford his own attorney. 

Among his assets, records show Dr. Ortiz owns a 7,700 square-foot home valued at $1.3 million in Murphy. 

Federal prosecutors say Dr. Ortiz injected heart-stopping medications into IV bags at the Baylor Scott & White Surgicare Center on Coit Road near 635 in North Dallas.

According to the criminal complaint, unknowing doctors then used the bags which caused cardiac emergencies in 11 patients.

A twelfth case involves Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a fellow doctor at the center who was recovering from dehydration after being sick. The complaint says she suffered a lethal dose of a nerve-blocking agent after using what was supposed to be an IV bag of saline.    

Melanie Kaspar

Melanie’s husband of 30 years, John Kaspar, attended Friday's hearing. 

"It's been a difficult summer," he said. "This new information stirs up all the emotions all over again. It is a lot to take in."

John wanted to see Dr. Ortiz for himself Friday.

"It was a visceral experience seeing him for the first time," he said. 

According to the complaint, the poisonings began two days after Dr. Ortiz was notified of a disciplinary inquiry at the Baylor Scott & White facility. He had already lost his privileges to practice at a separate. 

For weeks, John had no idea what had caused his wife's fatal response to the iv bag.

"Until they called me a few weeks back, I grappled with the fact she had a heart attack because she was a healthy woman. I could sit on her bicycle trainer for hours," he said.

John was with his wife when she had the reaction.

"It was the most agonizing thing I've seen in my whole life. I have that to struggle for a long time," he said.

Don Tittle is representing John in a potential civil case. 

"His wife was one of my closest friends. We all knew Mel. It's personal," he said.

Dr. Ortiz will be in court for a preliminary hearing Monday at 10 a.m.

A judge will also decide if she will grant prosecutors' request to keep Ortiz in custody while he awaits trial.