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Surgery

Colleagues of Anesthesiologist Accused of Tampering With IV Bags Testify They Were ‘Terrified’ of Him

A federal judged ordered that Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz be detained before trial because of fears that he would intimidate or injure witnesses. Ortiz is accused of tampering with IV bags that caused one death and at least a dozen adverse cardiac complications.
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Courtesy: U.S. Attorneys Office Courtesy: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas

The Richardson anesthesiologist who was arrested after allegedly tampering with IV bags at a Baylor Scott & White outpatient surgery center “terrified” “virtually all” of his colleagues who were interviewed by federal investigators, according to an FDA agent who testified in a hearing earlier this month.

Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz is accused of adding nerve-blocking agents to IV bags, which resulted in at least 12 cardiac complications and the death of his colleague. She unknowingly took a tampered IV bag home, administered it to herself, and died of a heart attack soon after. The alleged actions came to light after several otherwise healthy patients had adverse reactions in August. Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas ceased operations while it investigated the incidents.

FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Special Agent Dan Allgeyer testified that federal agents interviewed dozens of former coworkers who described their fear of retaliation and aggression. He said that facilities where Ortiz worked would be “beefing up security” if he were released.

Jeremy Johnson, surgery director at the Baylor Scott & White facility where Ortiz worked, testified in the hearing that Ortiz was “very aggressive,” and described a time he needed to call hospital security after Ortiz “got into my face” when Johnson asked him to wear a mask in a restricted area. Johnson also said that Ortiz was rough with patients while they were intubated when he became frustrated.

Johnson testified that he believed Ortiz may retaliate because of his testimony and said he feared for himself, his family, and everyone he works with because “he might come shoot us,” he said.

Allgeyer also testified that investigators found that Ortiz was making $84,000 per month through his anesthesiologist consulting practice and received $3.2 million in disbursements over the course of three years. Even though Ortiz’s medical license is suspended, his DEA registration is still active, meaning he is still able to prescribe medications.

Ortiz has a long criminal history of domestic abuse and violence, and had been recently disciplined by the Texas Medical Board for another adverse outcome. He served jail time after shooting a dog that was owned by a neighbor who helped one of Ortiz’s previous partners escape from him. He was arrested in September for tampering with a consumer product causing death and intentional drug adulteration.

Later that month, hospital security footage captured Ortiz placing IV bags in warmers outside of operating rooms and seemingly hiding the bags from colleagues. Other footage caught him looking around to make sure no one saw him place the bags in the warmers.

Judge Godbey ordered that Ortiz must be detained pending trial, arguing that he posed a danger to the community, was a flight risk, and might threaten, intimidate, or injure witnesses. A trial date has not been set.

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Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the managing editor for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…

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