Texas Doctor Convicted of Poisoning Patient IV Bags

A Texas doctor was convicted earlier this month for tampering with the IV bags of multiple surgical patients, causing at least 10 cardiac emergencies and one death, the Associated Press reported.

In an April 12 news release, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas said that 60-year-old Raynaldo Riviera Ortiz, Jr. was convicted of four counts of tampering with a product causing serious bodily injury, five counts of intentional adulteration of a drug, and one count of tampering.

Ortiz was arrested on September 14, 2022, for allegedly injecting drugs, including the stimulant epinephrine and the nerve-blocking agent bupivacaine, into bags of IV fluid used during surgeries at the Dallas surgical center where he worked as an anesthesiologist.

According to the criminal complaint, in June 2022, another anesthesiologist from the surgical center used one of the tampered IV bags to treat her dehydration. She immediately experienced a medical emergency resulting in her death. An autopsy found that the cause of death was a lethal dose of bupivacaine.

Two months later, an 18-year-old patient undergoing routine sinus surgery had to be transferred to a local ICU after experiencing a cardiac emergency. The IV bag used in his surgery was found to contain bupivacaine, lidocaine, and epinephrine.

Personnel from the surgical center determined that the two incidents suggested a pattern of intentional tampering. They conducted a review and identified ten other instances in which the patients experienced cardiac emergencies during routine procedures.

Evidence at the trial showed that at the time, Ortiz had been facing disciplinary action over a medical mistake he made in surgery that put his medical license at risk.

Doctors testified that the cardiac emergencies all occurred immediately after new IV bags were hung.

While Ortiz’s sentencing hearing has not been scheduled as yet, the Justice Department said he could face a maximum of 190 years in prison.