Dallas doctor called 'medical terrorist' by prosecutors ordered to remain in custody
DALLAS - A Dallas anesthesiologist accused of tampering with IV bags, leading to the death of a doctor and cardiac emergencies for 11 others, will stay behind bars until his trial.
Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz Jr. was ordered to be kept in custody without bail during a hearing in federal court on Monday morning. Prosecutors called Ortiz a "medical terrorist" in the hearing, claiming he turned IV bags into "poison bombs" that "exploded on unsuspecting patients".
Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a doctor at Baylor Scott and White Surgicare in North Dallas, was one of the alleged victims. On June 21, Kaspar gave herself a saline IV treatment for dehydration and had a heart attack minutes later.
Her husband, John, called 911, but Kaspar died before paramedics could arrive. An autopsy later found her death was from bupivacine toxicity, a heart-stopping drug prosecutors say Dr. Ortiz intentionally put into many IV bags.
"My wife was a great person, and a great doctor. If this is true, he was not a great person of doctor," said John Kaspar, who was in attendance at Monday's hearing.
Prosecutors say they believe Ortiz tampered with the IV bags as revenge for a disciplinary investigation of a previous patient's medical emergency.
In August, the board announced that Dr. Ortiz’s practice would be monitored by another physician after it found Ortiz "failed to meet the standard of care for a patient during a procedure."
Video shown in court by prosecutors showed Dr. Ortiz placing an IV bag into a warmer next to an operating room at 10:34 a.m. on August 19. He is seen looking around cautiously before walking away.
Eight minutes later, a staff member took the bag. 18 minutes after that, a patient had a cardiac emergency.
Prosecutors allege Dr. Ortiz did similar swaps over and over, sending 11 patients from the Baylor Scott and White facility to hospital emergency rooms between May and August.
5 patients had to be transported to emergency rooms in August alone, matching the entire number of transfers from the facility for all of last year.
The Texas Medical Board has indefinitely suspected the anesthesiologist from practicing.
He faced discipline from the board prior to this case.
Prosecutors argued Dr. Ortiz, who had $7,000 on him at the time of his arrest, could be a flight risk if released from custody.
They also called him a danger to the public, pointing to a conviction on his record for shooting his neighbor's dog out of revenge.
Dr. Ortiz has a public defender, but owns a home worth $1.3 million in Murphy, five luxury cars, including a Corvette and three Mercedes, and prosecutors say, tax liens for owing the IRS millions of dollars.